Every year The Guardian publishes its UK 300 survey of student opinion on graduate careers and employers. According to the 2014/15 survey some of the biggest players in British industry are also currently among the best engineering companies to work for.
Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains
At the purpose-built Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre in Brixworth, Northamptonshire a squad of over 500 people work on the design, manufacture and testing of Formula 1 powertrain units (and hybrid systems such as Kinetic Energy Recovery System) for Mercedes AMG Petronas, Sahara Force India ,Williams Martini Racing and Lotus F1.
Honouring the company mantra "the objective of Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains is to win Formula 1 World Championships", its units have most recently powered Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton to victory in the World Drivers Championship. The organisation is currently concentrating on producing a high performance hybrid power unit - in line with a change in engine design philosophy dictated by the FIA in its biggest set of rule changes in the sport’s history introduced in 2014.
“Our student programmes are a crucial part of our plan. Our graduate, industrial placement and apprentice programmes all offer great opportunities to contribute to our success and begin an exciting career in engineering. We look for a blend of talents: people capable of performing under pressure, academically strong, creative and resilient enough to handle the daily challenges we face. There is certainly no ‘one size fits all’ approach and we are acutely aware that both a breadth and depth of knowledge and skills can be valuable at this stage of someone’s career. We nurture that raw talent, growing our own world class engineers who are capable of keeping us on the top step of the podium.”
Stuart Boyer Employee Development Manager, Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains
Since its automotive business became a separate entity in 1973 the Rolls-Royce Group has become a global company in its own right employing over 55,000 people in forty-five countries of whom over 17,000 are engineers. Providing ‘integrated power solutions’ for the civil and defence aerospace, and marine markets, Rolls-Royce is the world's second largest manufacturer of aircraft engines (after General Electric), and produces low–emission power systems for ships and a wide array of land vehicles.
Recognising that a prolific pipeline of highly qualified scientists and engineers is critical to the future success of its business, Rolls-Royce has invested heavily in STEM education programmes - aiming to reach six million people by 2020. It also runs a host of graduate development programmes, internships, apprenticeships and A-level entry programmes.
“We recognise that people are our power. The relentless innovation of the Group's products makes it imperative that we have the best workforce in the business. To ensure this, we seek to create a diverse and inclusive working environment that attracts and retains talented people, enhances flexibility and motivation, and encourages involvement in the ongoing success of our company. We are also committed to developing our people's skills through a range of world-class training programmes, and to encouraging a wider interest in science and engineering. Put simply, they could soon be on their way to a challenging and rewarding career that's full of potential.”
Graham Schuhmacher MBE, Rolls-Royce, Head of Development Services
A third of the 2,950 people at Dyson are engineers or scientists. For example, its research team is predominantly made up of mechanical engineers, but also includes specialists in acoustics, fluid dynamics, electronics, chemistry and microbiology. And most team members joined Dyson as graduate engineers.
Founder and chairman James Dyson is a passionate advocate of encouraging and sourcing creativity from Britain’s education establishments - as illustrated by his announcement in autumn 2014 that the company would be investing £45m in research at UK universities. A move that follows an earlier commitment to spend five million on a robotics lab at Imperial College London. The company that cornered the market in bagless vacuum cleaners – and then progressed to fans, heaters and the infamous Airblade hand dryer – has also committed £1bn to the research and development of 100 new products over the next four years.
“It's the hands-on approach at Dyson that makes it such a dynamic and exciting place to work. In my three years here I've worked on a huge variety of technical challenges. Unlike other engineering companies, the focus is on using your own ingenuity to solve a problem, not just following procedures.”
Peter Young, Senior Analysis Engineer, Dyson
Each year in the UK over one billion journeys are made and 100 million tonnes of freight is transported by rail. In the next 30 years it’s estimated that passenger demand for rail will more than double while freight demand is expected to rise by 140%.
Network Rail, which has been responsible for the country’s entire rail infrastructure since 2002, is currently investing £38bn in upgrading the railway that comprises 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, thousands of signals, level crossings and stations.
“Engineers are a vital part of our 34,000-strong workforce. A career with us will see you working on everything from simple overnight repairs and small-scale improvements, to hugely complex projects like the redevelopments of Birmingham New Street and London Bridge stations, and the electrification of the Great Western line. Our graduates are given responsibility from day one, building up the core skills that they need to become future leaders of the business.”
Ian Iceton, Human Resources Director, Network Rail
“When I applied for the graduate scheme, I really hadn’t appreciated the size of the company and what it delivers … until you are in the industry, it is very difficult to appreciate the scale and diversity of what we do as a company. Also, the pride and passion of people working on the railway is unrivalled.”
Christian Irwin, Network Rail, AMP Young Project Manager of the Year Winner 2012
German multinational conglomerate Siemens has been present in the UK since 1843 where it currently has around 5,000 employees involved in manufacturing the likes of industrial gas turbines, traffic lights, superconducting magnets for MRI scanners, high efficiency motor drives and train radios at 13 factories.The organisation is one of the biggest facilitators of engineering apprenticeships in the UK and enrolls around 200 graduates per year.
Engineering careers on offer are as diverse as the industry itself with roles in renewable and fossil power generation through to metals and drive technologies, and with training initiatives designed to help graduates reach Chartered Engineer status.
“The UK is an industrial powerhouse with a looming threat of a dire skills shortage as our older workers with valuable knowledge and technical expertise come up to retirement age. We do not see enough people coming through to replace them. The skills agenda is more important than ever in the current economic climate and Siemens continues to invest in a number of ways - graduates, apprenticeships, power academy, and in creating a pipeline of talent by stimulating school children’s interest in STEM subjects with projects like The Curiosity Project which is helping to bring STEM to life.”
Martin Hottass, Manager, Skills & Siemens Professional Education
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)
In 2001 the UK’s Defence Evaluation Research Agency was split in to two separate organisations: the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Qinetiq – a British multinational defence technology company. Today Dstl is one of the principal government organisations dedicated to innovative science and technology in the defence and security field, and supplies specialist services to the MOD and wider government.
“We recruit engineers into graduate roles across our organisation that cover a wide range of topics – including helicopter and rotorcraft performance modelling, R & D in electronic engineering, and providing technical contributions to the UK’s cyber defence capability. Dstl also offers placement roles prior to university and for those on sandwich degree courses looking for some work experience. For individuals who are looking for an alternative to university, but have a passion for engineering, we run a three year engineering apprenticeship programme where we offer the chance to develop those technical skills whilst working alongside technical experts on real projects for our customers.”
Kat Ward, Early Careers Development Adviser, Dstl
Airbus Group UK
The Airbus Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, and Airbus Helicopters – employs around 17,000 people in the UK – the biggest proportion of which work in the design and production of wing structures, fuel systems and landing gear integration at the company’s Filton and Broughton sites.
Airbus UK has an annual R&D budget of around £500 million and is investing significantly in developing more eco-efficient aircraft – over 80% of R&D spending at its largest division Airbus is currently related to environmental efficiency.
In March 2014 the Airbus E-Fan - the first fully electric training aircraft constructed from composite materials - completed its maiden flight. The organisation is also involved in a number of other technology programmes that it hopes will eventually lead to an all-electric helicopter and a 90-seat-passenger regional airliner with fully electric or hybrid propulsion.
“At Airbus Group our mission is simple: we make things fly. Innovation, passion and teamwork that transcends borders - geographic, cultural and functional - are shared by all Airbus Group employees, whether they are technical experts or project managers, technicians or production line operatives. We are looking for exceptional individuals with the skills, leadership qualities and creativity to help us define, develop and deliver the solutions that our customers - and our communities - will expect from us in the future.”
Jeremy Greaves, Vice President Communications & PR Airbus Group UK