Home EngineeringHere are the Interview of R&D and Mechanical Engineer
Here are the Interview of R&D and Mechanical Engineer

Here are the Interview of R&D and Mechanical Engineer

Interview with Fabien Bouffaron, R&D Engineer

First of all, please could you introduce yourself to us?

My name is Fabien, I am 26 and I come from a large family (two triplet brothers and a sister). I come from Nancy where I did all my studies at the University of Lorraine.  I have been in Toulouse since February for my first job in the industry at Airbus Defence and Space.  I am very interested in events: shows, music and festivals and I was able to work in that sector alongside my studies.

Can you tell us about your work?

Since February, I have been working as an R&D engineer in the field of ground segment systems engineering. Systems engineering is the art of having a variety of disciplines collaborate on designing, developing, upgrading and verifying a solution that will satisfy the customer’s needs. My role is to identify and summarise the different engineering-related needs and define the issues on which to focus in accordance with project requirements and deadlines.

Once that has been done, I am responsible for finding ways to resolve these issues through methods, tutorials, demonstrations and training, which are then finally applied to case studies, with a view to large-scale deployment.

From a development point of view, I would like to prove myself by taking on projects as systems engineer (systems architect) and then later return to R&D. This contact with grass-roots reality is important when working in R&D, as such projects enable you to gain a concrete vision of the engineers’ work and the operational constraints, while also obtaining experience and therefore legitimacy in defining solutions.

My colleagues have made me feel very welcome. The atmosphere is very dynamic, warm and supportive.  This environment has meant that I have adapted to my new roles quickly.

What challenges do you face in your everyday work?

My first challenge was to become familiar with my professional surroundings and get my bearings within the company from an organisational point of view. I also had to train to acquire a greater insight into space, satellites and more specifically ground segments, never having worked in this area before. After that, the biggest challenge awaiting me is to succeed in promoting our R&D solutions at project level. Resistance to change is difficult to manage, thus my work is all about educating, training and communicating with engineers to demonstrate the benefits and added value of our proposals.

What is your academic and professional background?

After a scientific Baccalaureate with an engineering sciences option, I took an EEAR degree (Electronics, Electrical Engineering, Automation and Network) at the University of Lorraine. The degree was my opportunity to acquire the solid technical foundations for exercising my profession. After that, I did a research Master’s in Complex Systems Engineering, during which I discovered the profession of systems engineer. While I was on that course, I became involved in a project/work placement at the CRAN (Nancy Automation Research Centre) laboratory which sparked my interest in how safety requirements were taken into account during the system design phase.

Finally, I continued my studies as a PhD student at the CRAN laboratory in the field of systems engineering.  My PhD work concerned ‘executable model-based co-specification’ applied to conducting a critical industrial process.  During my PhD, I also lectured at the University of Lorraine in the fields of automation, software engineering and systems engineering.

The position I hold today corresponds to the various expectations I had of providing distinct engineering solutions to resolve ‘grass-root’ project issues, or in other words, to be close to industrial considerations.

What qualities and skills do you believe your profession requires?

I think curiosity, attentiveness to both research and engineering points of view, as well as having an analytical mind, are the fundamental qualities needed for this job. You also have to be dynamic, be able to impart knowledge and call yourself into question in order to develop continuously.

Which project has fascinated you the most?

What is interesting in R&D engineering is that we have the opportunity to take part in numerous projects. This enables us to work on a broad spectrum of activities within the company. The project which has captured my interest the most so far is the R&D project Export Ground Segment Modelling – PeruSat. The aim of this project is to demonstrate what modelling brings to the design phase of a ground segment system.

This project stands out for me because it gave me insight into the profession and into the engineering of a ground segment, coordinating with a number of engineers from various fields having participated in the design of the system.

To conclude, what is your favourite Airbus Defence and Space product?

If I had to choose only one, I must admit that I was particularly fascinated by Rosetta and its Philae lander. I admire the success of a project whose initial objective of landing on a comet might have seemed ‘crazy’, and the ingenuity and engineering implemented to achieve that goal, along with the many ups and downs during its mission, from the trip from Earth to landing on the comet. I am looking forward to Philae coming out of hibernation and the information it might reveal about the comet.

Technical Manager

Interview with Steven Richard, Technical Manager

First of all, please could you introduce yourself to us?

My name is Steven, I come from Brittany, married with two children. I am a great computer enthusiast. One of my other passions is tennis which I play competitively at a regional level.

Can you tell us about your work?

I am the technical manager for the MOeCAPP project. This project is carried out within our Air Traffic Management division.  MOeCAPP brings together the IT, software and hardware resources required for air traffic control missions during approach phases.  It is a co-contracted project. Our partner is working on production while Airbus Defence and Space is working on the technical management of the programme and engineering/integration/system validation activities developed by Sogeti.  Even though I work for Airbus Defence and Space, my position covers the whole consortium.

And as a little sideline for my department, we are also working on CAUTRA, and we are developing ERATO for DSNA and Italy, we are involved in the SESAR programme regarding flight safety, and many other activities besides…

What challenges do you face in your everyday work?

The challenges I face arise because MOeCAPP is a consortium. My relationship with the co-contractor is not based on hierarchy. As my integration/validation activities can only be performed after those of our partner, early involvement is required with the project manager to guarantee activities and anticipate mishaps. The other big challenge I face is that I represent the image of Airbus Defence and Space, not only to the co-contractor but also the customer. It is a great responsibility which is sometimes difficult to carry out alone.

What is your academic and professional background?

I did a scientific Baccalaureate and then a vocational Master’s foundation course, with an IT option. I chose to attend the EISTI engineering school which seemed to have a more technical leaning than the other schools for which I was eligible. What I also liked about the EISTI establishment was that it fosters numerous partnerships with other schools. I was therefore able to complete a specialised Master’s in image processing at the ENSEA engineering school during my final year.

My course also involved work placements. I started working on simulators at a competing company. After graduation, I started subcontracting for Airbus, then I went to Thalès, next I did subcontracting for Rockwell Collins, and then finally returned to Airbus Defence and Space, where I have now been working for some time.

What qualities do you believe this profession requires?

I think several qualities are essential. Firstly, empathy: you have to be very attentive to understand all the requirements, whether those of customers or of co-contractors.   Another quality that comes to mind is creativity. I am often confronted by architectures, designs or code from another age and I have to find solutions to overcome their obsolescence while maintaining quality of service. That requires real creativity.

What has been your favourite Airbus Defence and Space product?

No doubt about it:WorldEM! WorldEM is an Earth mapping tool by a public-private partnership between the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and Airbus Defence and Space with funding from the BMWi. It has a relative resolution of 2 metres and absolute resolution of 4 metres with a final mesh of 12 metres.  Until now there was only American SRTM data with a 90 metre mesh for European ground and 30 metres for American ground. I can see many applications for it in air navigation and on board aircraft.

Mechanical Design Engineer

Interview with Cécile Biaiso, Mechanical Design Engineer

First of all, please could you introduce yourself to us?

My name is Cécile and I have been an engineer at Airbus Defence and Space for 15 years. I am proactive, enthusiastic and committed. I love learning and making progress technically-speaking as well as gaining knowledge in terms of management, teamwork and customer relations. I am a level 2 diver and a novice runner, hoping to finish the 22 km SaintéLyon race.

Can you tell us about your work? (Techniques, team, things you like, etc.)?

A few months ago, I joined the communications satellites mechanical design office. I am responsible for the development of the service module. I check that there is no ‘clash’ between the different items of equipment. An example of a clash is the lack of adequate access for mounting equipment during assembly or disassembly operations, or the inability to place equipment correctly, because other components are in the way.

This job requires mechanical skills and specialist knowledge. The role leads to the construction of a distinct object (the satellite) and what we do is crucial to avoiding problems during assembly phases.

What challenges do you face in your everyday work?

The challenge consists in conducting clash analyses and technical studies in accordance with the project schedule, while satisfying minor day-to-day demands. First and foremost it involves teamwork and to succeed you have to take each other’s needs into account and learn from working with everyone.

What has been your favourite project during your career and why?

I have had the opportunity to work on tenders and particularly enjoyed it. Huge workloads and short deadlines, technical proposals to come up with to meet customer requirements, negotiations, etc. It is all very exciting and immensely satisfying when we find out that the customers has chosen us! It is a collective reward: working on a tender really brings out the team spirit and everybody works towards a common goal.

What is your academic and professional background?

I did a scientific Baccalaureate specialising in Mathematics, to open up my options for higher education as much as possible.

First, I completed a short course with work experience to obtain a university diploma in IT. My results allowed me to pursue a four-year vocational university course and obtain a degree in IT, involving long work placements every year. I finally concluded my studies with a Master’s degree in Computer Systems Engineering.

All my work placements helped with my gradual integration into the corporate world and enabled me to make a name for myself.
That was how Airbus Defence and Space, formerly Matra Marconi Space, offered me a job after I graduated.

What qualities do you believe this profession requires?

  • Commitment. You have to be dedicated to your job, which is beneficial both professionally as well as personally.
  • Rigour. We work on complex programs where it is important to minimise the risk of error Team spirit.
  • Engineering is all about knowing how to integrate your expertise into a team profile, to take the overall project forward.

What has been your favourite Airbus Defence and Space product?

The GAIA satellite: GAIA will map our galaxy in three dimensions, estimating the distances of stars from Earth and their speeds. In addition to this astrometry mission, GAIA will discover and record tens of thousands of previously unknown objects including brown and white dwarfs, supernovae, dwarf planets and asteroids in the solar system… and the eagerly-awaited exoplanets.

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