Rob Worboys: group project design
The main reason why I chose to study aerospace engineering at Bristol was to take advantage of the fantastic industrial partnerships it shares. By having so many world leading multinational aerospace companies in the near vicinity along with a highly recognised syllabus, Bristol graduates will be in the best position when seeking employment opportunities. This industrial contact is particularly encouraged during the course’s flagship module - The Final Year Group Design Project (GDP).
Each year the group design project task is adapted so as to be relevant to the current challenges that the industry faces. Our task was to develop a B767 or A320 replacement, two flagship aircraft which now require updating to meet the new medium-range market demands.
Our group of nine, decided to develop an unconventional concept, which offered promising improvements in noise reduction and fuel efficiency compared to its conventional equivalent. The chosen concept consisted of a U-tail empennage with rear-mounted engines (see Sketches 2 and 3 below). This decision was made through utilising a variety of decision making tools, which were introduced throughout the course. The final concept was then presented to a board of representatives from Airbus and the Aerospace Department, before an overall ‘winner’ was selected.
Personally I found the group design project the most rewarding and enjoyable module of the course. Its challenging nature is aimed at preparing students for graduation by exposing them to a similar environment to that experienced in industry. Continuous deadlines, individual technical report documentation and dedicated administration roles are all incorporated so to ensure that the project runs as smoothly as possible and these were organised extremely well.
I acted as our group’s chief engineer. This role came with the responsibility of ensuring that everyone was using technical design methods that were valid, while also making the difficult decisions when there was no clear solution. If I was to give future students one piece of advice, it would be to perform a role which you are unexperienced in. This project is the perfect opportunity to develop transferable skills which can be highlighted during an interview situation. So take advantage of it, put your name forward for a leadership or administration role. From my experience this is where students thrive and gain the skills and confidence needed to become a future leader.
In my view the most rewarding element of the project was applying prior modules, such as aerodynamics and propulsion, but in the context of aircraft design and optimisation. The whole course is extremely well developed and provides enough detail to perform most tasks. However, for situations where support is required, technical workshops and one-to-one guidance are available with the relevant specialists.
The project also offers students complete freedom. Too often the aerospace industry is criticised for not changing its general aircraft design. While it immediately becomes clear during the group design project why the conventional concept is so dominant for civil applications, the project encourages creativity. The sky is literally the limit as long as the design is capable of satisfying the given requirements. This therefore enables us as engineering students to do what we do best: develop innovative ideas to solve real world problems. Now if that isn’t an inspiring prospect, I don’t know what is!