The sky’s no limit for Bristol engineers
Press release issued: 31 October 2019
Dreams of taking flight are not uncommon. Rarer still are moments in life where those dreams come true. Abhishek Gautam has been lucky enough to realise such a lifetime ambition, thanks to using his skills and initiative to strike up a relationship with a world-leading human flight suit manufacturer, propelling his own prospects and raising the aspirations of fellow students.
Abhishek, a PhD student with the University of Bristol's School of Aerospace Engineering is the Technical Projects Lead for Gravity Industries, a Wiltshire-based start-up firm that has fast become a global leader in developing human jet suits - with the help of Bristol University engineers.
For the past two years, Abhishek has supervised fellow students as they work with Gravity on everything from designing deployable wings and parachute safety systems, to creating flight transition simulation models.
"Studying at Bristol opened a lot of doors for me, giving me the opportunity to work with companies like Rolls Royce, Red Bull F1 and Force India F1," says Abhishek. "I sent a speculative CV to Gravity in 2017 and the CEO, Richard Browning, responded. That's where the whole journey began.
"Flight has been a subject that’s inspired many generations. Gravity are on a mission to re-imagine human flight and inspire a generation to dare ask 'what if'. It’s the 'what if' that makes the whole project so exciting. It’s that curiosity that has led to all the greatest inventions in history and it’s something that fuels human hunger to push boundaries of innovation."
Earlier this year, Abhishek and a cohort of students had the chance to visit Gravity's Salisbury headquarters, to spend the day with world-famous Bollywood actor and producer Akshay Kumar, who was intrigued by Gravity's work and wanted to experience how the suit worked.
As well as getting involved in the technical and commercial side of the business, volunteering their skills as flight crew and supporting public events, Bristol students from the undergraduate level all the way to Masters and PhDs, have the chance to make their mark in the advancement of Gravity's wider vision.
For instance, a team of students are currently working with Bristol’s National Composites Centre to assist Gravity's technicians as they redesign carbon fibre engine mounts for the jet suit.
While others have gone on to carve their career paths in the sector, such as Alex Wilson, another aerospace engineering student who joined gravity in 2017 as a part time volunteer engineer, and after graduating, joined as a full time engineer after. Since then, he’s gone on to become one of the lead pilots for Gravity, flying multiple shows and displays, including displays for the MoD and members of parliament in the UK.
"Gravity augments the human mind and body with just the right amount of technology to open up a new realm of flight," adds Abhishek. “This new realm comes with multiple engineering challenges that haven’t been faced before. In solving these challenges, we gain skills and competencies that we wouldn’t be able to gain in other sectors or jobs.
"Added to that, the science fiction nature of the technology helps inspire people from all around the world to make them believe that anything is possible."
The Faculty of Engineering is home to academics and researchers who are addressing many of society's grand challenges, with opportunities for students to advance their skills in a creative and challenging environment. The following courses are especially relevant to those seeking to boost their prospects in aerospace, technology and composites: