This is an excerpt from an article published in The Aerospace Professional: May 2010.
The Ballantyne Seminar 2010 took place on 26 March under the title ‘Flying out of a Recession’ and its main theme was the effects of the financial climate on aerospace engineering and business. It was aimed at young people from 14 to 18 years old, to reflect on the ways that the aerospace industry has responded to the recession and what the future may hold for young people wanting to start a career. The Ballantyne Seminar was kindly sponsored by Boeing.
The seminar was introduced by the RAeS Chief Executive, Simon Luxmoore. At 10 am Simon welcomed the students and introduced the day’s speakers. Among other things, he made reference to the fact that people who run businesses are very keen to be approached by young people with enthusiasm and commitment who wish to work with a company for a period of time and learn more about the industry, and so he encouraged the students to be bold in seeking and seizing work experience opportunities.
The first of the speakers was Lara Small, an aerospace manufacturing engineering student. Lara spoke of her impressive career to date. A member of the RAeS Women in Aviation and Aerospace Committee and the first female in the UK to hold a scooter mounting license! Lara is committed to promoting women in engineering and serves as a role model for the younger generation of both girls and boys. In an inspirational speech, Lara gave the students the advice she wished she had been given when she was a teenager. She specifically said: ‘Don’t rush into things; just because your friends go down a particular route does not mean you have to’; ‘try a few things out in the short term and make a decision when you’ve covered a few options’; ‘take a placement to see if this is the right path for you’ and ‘utterly commit to your goals’.
Richard Kinnel, Engineering Training Manager at BA, spoke to the students about BA’s response to recession. He suggested that the recession provides the business world with the ideal opportunity for self-improvement, for investigation of potential changes in the strategies, and preparing for a more dynamic comeback.
The students also had the chance to listen to Captain Dacre Watson, a Liveryman of GAPAN. In his speech Capt Watson introduced the students to the challenges involved in a career as a pilot. He emphasised the importance of being able to respond well to pressure, as the quantity of information is enormous and the examinations frequent and tough.
In parallel, Nick Goodwin, the Chief Flying Instructor for the Central Flying School of the RAF, encouraged the young audience not to be afraid to follow their dreams, not to be shy of extra hard work in order to achieve their ambitions and to be proactive in chasing after sponsorship opportunities.
Last in the series of speakers was Matt Downing, Strategic Forecaster for Boeing Defence in the UK. Mr Downing described Boeing’s history and current operations and exposed the students to future prospects in the various different areas of aerospace engineering. He also gave them practical advice on how to make their CV stand out from the crowd.
The event continued with Mike Rouse, chairman of the ‘Schools’ Build-a-Plane Challenge’ committee, introducing an update on the projects first two build aircraft. The challenge, a joint venture of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Boeing Company with generous support of the Light Aircraft Association, gives young people the opportunity to build an aircraft from scratch. Overseen by experts, the young people involved with the project assemble a kit plane themselves, with the first aircraft ready for display at the Farnborough Airshow futures day on 23 July.
The two participating schools in the ‘Schools’ Build-a-Plane Challenge’ are the Yateley and Marling schools from Farnborough and Gloucester respectively. Their students presented on the progress of the building of a RANS S6 Coyote light aircraft from scratch. They talked about the challenges they had faced and revealed that the three secrets of their success were ‘teamwork, teamwork and teamwork’.
Break for lunch followed and the students had the unique opportunity to take a pilot’s aptitude test, courtesy of GAPAN, which test their natural talent for flying an aircraft. The second session of the Ballantyne seminar was dedicated to the workshop preparation and group presentation competition. The students, split into groups, had 40 minutes in workshops to put together a presentation on current issues affecting the aerospace industry such as the environment, the impact of terrorism, the effects of the recession and the making up for the loss of profits as well as fashion and merchandising ideas. The students worked in teams preparing presentations, which they then delivered in front of a panel of judges made up of the morning’s speakers.
The students worked hard and with great enthusiasm becoming immediately engaged in the thought-provoking topics. Through this activity they had the opportunity to develop and practice certain key skills such as teamwork and collaboration, brainstorming on challenging themes, understanding novel concepts and ideas and developing the ability to reproduce them in front of an audience of their peers; participation, confidence in public speaking, creativity, respecting each other’s efforts and valuing competitive spirit.
The most engaging and well laid-out presentations won awards, and the students received their prizes from Simon Luxmoore. There was also a prize for the student who achieved the highest aptitude test score. As an exception this year two students, instead of one, won an experience of a virtual flight in an Airbus A380 flying simulator.
The event ended with all students receiving a gift bag of aerospace careers literature from the Society. For more information on the Ballantyne event and the work of the Royal Aeronautical Society Careers Centre please visit: www.aerosociety.com/careers