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Rob McFadden: Aerospace Software Engineering Degree Apprenticeship with BAE Systems

For Rob McFadden, the orthodox, four or five year degree in Aerospace Engineering was not best suited to his needs. Instead, he opted to go down the apprenticeship degree route with BAE Systems after completing a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering at Runshaw College.

“BAE Systems offers two degree apprenticeships; the first one which I am undertaking is an Aerospace Software Engineering apprenticeship. This is a four-year programme with two days studying at the University of Central Lancashire and three days in eight-month placements at Warton and Samlesbury,” Rob said.

Rob is enjoying every minute of the degree apprenticeship, particularly how hands on the placement side of the course is. Rob is currently producing mission-planning code and testing mission-planning features for the Offboard Mission Support team within the F-35 programme.

"One of the best parts of the apprenticeship is working in different placements from simulation to flight testing"

“I have also worked in the Modelling and Testing Environment team, where I produced a digital Multifunction Heads Down Display (MHDD) for the Eurofighter Typhoon cockpit team.”

“Working in different placements lets you learn from colleagues who are experts in the field, and gain insights you can only get from real-world experience. There are also plenty of chances to work abroad, work all over the country, and participate in all kinds of development opportunities,” Rob added.

Although Rob has no regrets about embarking on the apprenticeship degree, he has encountered some difficulties along the way. In the end, hard work would eventually get him through the hurdles that were placed in front of him.

“The most challenging aspect is time management. I am currently studying for a degree, a Level 4 NVQ qualification and completing work placement tasks. I soon figured out a way of managing my time well and quickly enjoyed the rewards,” Rob said.

Rob McFadden is certainly a success story from apprenticeship degrees and an example to look at when weighing up the benefits of taking such a route. He recommends it to anyone interested in aerospace software engineering and has offered the following advice for hopeful applicants:

“Make sure you’re doing all you can to make your application the best it can be - having a part-time job, completing a Duke of Edinburgh Award and volunteering are all great things to have on your application. Spend as much time on your application as you can, don’t rush it.”