Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


29 Jul 2020

Rolls Royce Placement Experience - Lucy Wootton

Lucy Wootton RR x 670

Ever wondered what it might be like to do a placement at Rolls Royce plc?  Lucy Wootton, MEng Aeronautical Engineering student in the Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering Department at Loughborough University, tells us all about her experience:

Where did you hear about your placement?

At the Engineering and main University Career’s Fair.

To apply, I first filled out an online application form, which, once completed, meant I was sent a link to some online tests. After I passed these, I was invited to an Assessment Centre, which was a whole day at the Rolls-Royce Learning and Development Centre in Derby. At the Assessment Centre, I had an hour-long technical interview with an Engineer, as well as a Group Exercise that involved making paper aeroplanes to fly a set distance, at a budget, with particular materials and in a particular time frame. I also had to do a 5-minute presentation on why I wanted to join Rolls-Royce and answer some questions in a general interview.

Did you do anything specific to prepare for the interview process?

I researched the history of Rolls-Royce in depth and their current major projects, especially for the 5-minute presentation. I also recapped my notes for the topics I said I had covered in my degree that year, ready for the technical questions.

What did you do on your placement?

Initially, I was placed in the Turbines Sub-System Department, in which engineers act as Integrators between the projects for each type of engine and engineers designing individual engine components. In this Department, I maintained the Lessons Learnt Logs (the Rolls-Royce way of tracking important lessons to ensure the same mistakes are not made again). I also worked for the ‘Test and Build Integration Team’ in this Department, investigating problems with interference fits between engine components and implementing a new bulk scanning system for engine parts

I was also given the task of designing a component to help with predicting corrosion fatigue. I took this project all the way to presenting it to the Chief Engineer for the engine in question, something not usually done by an Intern. Another job I completed was organising testing of engine components in different locations around the UK (flow testing, GOM scanning and cut ups). Furthermore, I took and catalogued images of components from an engine that had been through sand ingestion testing, sending the presentation to other Rolls-Royce sites across the world to share understanding.

However, I found being at a desk all day quite difficult, so I moved to work mainly in the Failure Investigation Department, where I was responsible for carrying out corrosion fatigue assessments on sets of turbine blades. This involved learning how to do a full failure investigation, using both an Optical and Scanning Electron Microscope, as well as carrying out elemental analysis using the Scanning Electron Microscope. This work also involved sectioning, mounting and polishing turbine blades for analysis, so quite a lot of practical work.

I also completed several training courses, including a course on how to ‘Observe, Deduce and Analyse’ engine hardware sent to Failure Investigation, as well as a week-long course on how to use Siemens NX Software.

Lucy Wootton RR placement trophy x 300

What were the best parts of your placement?

The best parts were:

  • Taking my design to a Chief Engineer and answering all his questions!
  • Completing four corrosion fatigue assessments that were vitally important to the engine projects and equivalent of the work done by a Failure Investigator i.e. My work being important, valued and I was trusted to do work equivalent to that of a normal employee.
  • The friends I made during my placement, particularly in the Failure Investigation Team. They were one, large group of friends and we did social activities outside work, like group bike rides and Gliding day trips.

How difficult was the transition from study, to work?

I did not find the transition particularly difficult, although adjusting to getting up early and doing a daily commute took a few weeks. I actually enjoyed working life, because work was left ‘at work’ and I could not do it in the evenings! However, when you are at university, you could always be working, even in the evenings, so the work never feels like it stops. I really liked having evenings and weekends to myself.

How do you think your placement will help you upon your return to university?

I think placement will help me with organising my time at university, especially in final year, as I will have a lot of time without scheduled lectures, during which I will need to organise my own project work. Therefore, I think I will take my timetable from placement and copy it across to my degree, studying/working in department for normal working hours every day and then, hopefully, keeping evenings largely free!

Furthermore, the contacts I have made are going to help me with my Final Year Project, providing hardware for testing, as well as advice from experts in their field.

How do you think your placement will help you upon completion of your degree?

My placement will help me to know what sort of Engineering jobs to apply for, based on what I did and did not enjoy during my Internship. My placement will also help me in applying for jobs, by enhancing my CV, showing I have applied my degree to real-world engineering.

My name is also known within parts of Rolls-Royce, which should help if I want to return to work there.

What would you say to anyone who is considering doing a placement?

I would say that placement is what you make of it. If you are not enjoying where you have been placed, particularly in a large company, then there are often ways to move and find out what work is like in other departments that may be more suited to you. You just need to be proactive!

My placement year at Rolls-Royce was invaluable in showing me what sort of work I would like to do in the future, as well as giving me confidence in myself and my engineering ability.

We thank Lucy for sharing her experience at Rolls royce with us and wish her every success for the future!