An American Abroad: Part 2, The Frozen North!

Hey blog readers! It’s Zenas Del Rosario again—your friendly, neighborhood, American trainee. As you all know, on top of the challenges that everyone faces during the work-week, we trainees must undergo those same trials far from home for our international assignments. You may wonder what happens during the holidays while we’re abroad. Many of us test our products as we fly home to be with family; others wander into the great unknown and explore their host-countries. I’m happy to tell you that I chose the latter! So strap-in, sit tight, and allow me to regale you with my tale of adventure, intrigue, and what you could do off-the-clock as a trainee at GKN Aerospace!

And so began my adventure! Highly recommended by my Swedish friends and colleagues, I was headed into the Great Frozen North, the Arctic Circle of Grandeur, the Land of Snowy Wonders—the great city of Kiruna! I set out from Trollhättan on the Polar Express armed with nothing but my backpack of supplies and a phone filled with podcasts before enduring a 22 HOUR TRAIN RIDE. Yes, I was told to fly. No, I didn’t listen. Seat soreness aside, I was awe-struck by the snowy country sides, sleepy towns, and frozen forests that cover Sweden’s northern expanse. Like something out of a story book, I was once again amazed by Sweden’s beauty—second only to America’s! As the sun set at 2pm on Christmas Eve, the train pulled into Kiruna station; and so I gathered my things, stretched my legs, and bundled up before stepping out into the cold.

Well rested and raring to go, I awoke on Christmas morning with a sense of childish whimsy. Having never spent a winter further north than sunny San Diego, I threw open the curtains of my hotel room and basked in the sight of the white Christmas I had always dreamed of! With snow as far as the eye could see, I dressed quickly and set out to accomplish the first thing on my touristy to-do list. I hopped into a taxi thankful that the heater was on full-blast and watched the sites fly by as I rode to Santa’s unofficial, favorite vacation home—the world famous, original ICEHOTEL. I could tell you all about the amazing vaulted ceilings, one-of-a-kind sculptures, and intricate designs all carved out of ice, but a picture’s worth a thousand words so here you go…

Pics or it didn’t happen. No, the toilets were normal.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet Santa on vacation. I hear he was still at work somewhere over Hawaii when I visited the ICEHOTEL. I wasn’t too sad about it though. With my epic day near completion, I headed back to Kiruna for dinner and indulged in one of Sweden’s lesser known delicacies…

Rudolph’s cousin was delicious (left). Jesus’s winter home (right).

Being the good Catholic dude that I am, I couldn’t end my Christmas break without checking in on the birthday boy—my homie and Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Before leaving on my journey back to Trollhättan, I made sure to stop by his gothic-style winter home to thank him for all the good that he allows me to do. He gave me a quick pep talk, made me promise to keep on keeping on, and sent me on my merry way.

As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Zenas a dull boy. The trainees and I work extremely hard to make things fly; but as you can see, even we find time to maintain a healthy work-life balance. If you’re reading this and want your chance to earn a spot on this amazing roster of professionals, take a swing and apply today! Until next time, gotta fly.


Activity week 2, part 2

Dear World,

After a very exciting week abroad, visiting a vast amount of interesting companies throughout Europe we are finally back at our beloved site in Trollhättan, Sweden. This post will involve various interesting company visits, endeavors and stories about the places we have been at and the things we have seen. The main challenge for me as a finance trainee is to make you and myself understand all the technical terms that we encountered at each of these visits, so I ask you to overlook my lack of expertise within these areas.

So here it goes… When we arrived in the Netherlands, our first visit was to ESA (ESTEC) in Noordwijk.  One of the trainees from our group, Filip Jensen, did his internship at ESA within the Chemical Propulsion section so he managed to set up a very intense but exciting day for us. We indulged ourselves in the futuristic aura that the place gave us. The first feeling that we had when we entered the company grounds was WOW!

Our host for the day was Matthew Smith, a Chemical Propulsion Engineer who gave us the tour around the premises. The first area we visited was the Propulsion lab where an YGT (Young Graduate Trainee) introduced us the complex systems of Electric and Chemical Propulsion. The ESA Propulsion Laboratory is an operational facility in the spacecraft propulsion testing field. I think that many of us thought that this was very cool but we were overwhelmed with the complexity of it, this surely was Rocket Science.

As the tour continued, we approach what in the end happened to be my favorite, the Large Space Simulator (LSS). Within the test center where the LSS is, Satellites must be tested thoroughly before sent into space because satellites are expensive, and once in orbit they cannot be fixed. In this facility we were introduced to all the complex testing that ESTEC does on satellites. It was presented by Grezgorz Izorski, an Electromechanical Instrumentation Engineer. Inside the LSS satellites are exposed to vacuum as well as simulating sunlight, which is about 20 times stronger or more than it is on Earth. Would satellites be sent to Mercury, which is much closer to the sun than Earth, then we could be confident that the satellite would not malfunction.

Furthermore, we were introduced to the Materials Lab by Nathan Bamsey, a Materials & Process Engineer. Here, we were given an overview of the different materials that we use and how they are tested. Also, a vast amount of process are undertaken to ensure stability and robustness for the chosen materials.

In between the different facility visits we were able to meet another Chemical Propulsion Engineer named Chris Hunter. He set up an open forum of discussion, giving us the possibility to ask relevant questions encompassing the industry and the challenges that we have in the future. This visit also gave Filip the possibility to meet many of his former colleagues.

The trainee group in front of a satellite at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands.

Fokker Landing Gear

The day after the tour at ESTEC, we travelled further south toward Helmond where we visited our sister company Fokker Landing Gear. Our guide for the day was Manuela Snijders, a MRO (Maintenance-Repair-Overhaul) Engineer – New Capabilities & Innovations. I have to say that I have never experienced such a warm welcome than the one we received here, big shout-out to them and everything they arranged for us.

The trainee group outside of Fokker Landing Gear in Helmond, Netherlands.

Firstly, we got a presentation of the company as well as the trainee-program that they offer at Fokker. It differentiates a bit from ours but the end product is very much like ours, to develop and sustain young graduates within the company. Additionally, we got a tour throughout the manufacturing plant to see what sort of products they produce. You don’t realize how important and advance the landing gears are as well as how much weight they are exposed to. They use a block of metal that weighs about 22 ton and simulate a real-life scenario where the weight is moving 8 m/s onto the wheels. To understand the physics, the block of metal (1/3 airplane) weighs 22,000 kg and moves at 8 m/s toward the ground (which is very fast and unpleasant landing). Making the momentum: 22,000 * 8 = 176,000 kg*m/s. In other words, a large amount of momentum is distributed onto one pair of wheels?!! Hereon, we walked throughout the rest of manufacturing to see their machines and how they produce their products. It was much like our own plant in Trollhättan except for the end product.

Towards the end of our visit, we engaged ourselves with the Fokker employees and former trainees at the plant in a “speed dating” session. Here we got the chance during 5 minutes to engage ourselves in a more in-depth conversation with each individual. We all thought this was a great way of networking to get a deeper understanding of their day-to-day activities. Something that amazed many of us were their way of presenting up-to-date data on screens, involving performance of machines, financial results, health rates as well as working capital

Airbus Space & Defence

For the final stop on our tour through Europe, the trainee group was treated to an inspiring site tour at Airbus Defence & Space in Leiden, Netherlands. While there we were introduced to Senior Systems Engineer, Henk Cruijssen, who taught us about some of the projects and technologies that they work on at Airbus. After a brief presentation, he walked us through a few of their test labs and manufacturing facilities to touch and see the materials that go on their satellites. Before leaving for home, we had a short Q&A with Henk about the aerospace industry and the roles we play.

The trainee group posing in front of the Airbus logo.

The trainee group in front of one of the rocket parts assembled by Airbus Space & Defence.

Thank you for this time, and I wish you all the best but more specifically a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!!

Until next time.

Activity week 2, part 1

Hey there!

Last week was our second activity week when we once again visited a number of exciting companies, this time we took our stuff and went to Germany and the Netherlands. Since there were a lot of different visits, I will only write about three of them in this post.

Since our trainee project is about a workshop tour in a VR environment, we decided to visit a company that works with that, to get a better knowledge in the technology and what we can use. We visited the company Kubikfoto3 in Stuhr outside Bremen. There we met Ole Leifels, who presented their company and some of the projects they have been working with, both educational ones and advertising for different companies. We also got the chance to try some of the project with VR glasses which I thought was really cool, dive into the ocean and find animals in the wild, among other things.

A happy Emelie that got to see a sea lion in VR environment.

We also took the opportunity to visit two different startup companies working in the aviation industry, which was really enlightening as they deal with current issues.

The first startup company we visited was Skel-Ex in Rotterdam, where they develop and manufacture an exoskeleton used on the upper body of those who work in manufacturing, to minimize the risk for ergonomic injuries and increasing productivity. It decreases the burden in the shoulders when working with the arms in a high position with the help of springs.

First, we met with Michael Kuiken who showed us and described their product and their manufacturing. We also got to try it and you really felt what a great relief it gave the shoulders when your arms were high up. Then, Jaap Hoogland gave a presentation about the company, its background and future plans. A really great innovation and a great value to minimize injuries in manufacturing!

Wictor is feeling strong with the exoskeleton.

The second startup company we visited was Aiir Innovations in Amsterdam, founded in 2016, where we met the founders Bart Vredebregt and Miriam Huijser. Their company works with Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a support to maintenance in the aviation industry, for inspections and repairs.

They develop a software program that analyzes video footage and detects automatically the defects in the material such as cracks or bumps. This is used as an extra pair of eyes to the operator during the inspection so that nothing is to be missed and time will be saved. We got to see an example when they filmed turbine blades in a jet engine and the defects were marked directly. It is a great value to a company since it will be a safer inspection that takes less time. Time = money!

The whole gang outside the “village” where Air Innovations has there office.

If you want to read more about these interesting and innovative companies, you can visit their websites:



Aiir Innovations: 

F7 Såtenäs

Dear blog readers!

Things are moving on here at GKN in Trollhättan and we are soon at the well-deserved Christmas holidays. This week we had the opportunity to join some colleagues, doing an internship called ”Tekniksprånget”, and Maria Stavered at F7  Såtenäs, a Swedish military air base. 

At Såtenäs we meet our Guide Dag Kjellberg who showed us around some hangars with old aircrafts. Dag has over 1500 flight hours with the Viggen Aircraft and a few hundred with the Gripen aircraft. We had the opportunity to walk around the hangar and see Viggen, Draken, Lansen and many other aircrafts. They are all managed and flown by its ideal organization Swedish Air Force Historic Flight, participating in flight shows all over the world.

SAAB JA 37 Viggen

SAAB J37 Draken

Shortly afterwards we went to the Gripen centra, a building at F7 with the duty to promote the Swedish air force and govern the Gripen program. There, we had a lecture of the Swedish air force history by Håkan Brandt a retired pilot with a lot of experience of Viggen. Close outside, the Gripen aircrafts took off and even though we were inside, it was loud!

We headed off to the last hangars, the Gripen hangars and before entering we waited for a Gripen to take off, and we could never imagined the mighty sound of the RM12! The visual aspect of the takeoff was incredible, but the sound of the engine was marvelous! Makes one proud being from Trollhättan. Inside the hangars, Dag and Håkan talked about the cockpit, the clothing, the fire power, agility and much more. We also had the fortune to take two photos of the group in front of two Gripen aircrafts.

In front of a JAS 39 Gripen

In the background: the nozzle of the RM12, the engine of Gripen. Made by GKN

 It was a very giving visit and we are very glad that we had the opportunity to visit F7 Såtenäs!

Engaging the Trainees

Well hello there! I know you have been waiting a while for me to post an entry, so here I am back at it again!

As my fellow trainees have stated in the previous entries, there is a lot happening at GKN right now, especially for us trainees. We have had the privilege to participate in different events and fairs in Trollhättan in order to strengthen the interest from youths across different high schools. Last weekend in corporation with Innovatum and other companies, we participated in First Lego League. At this event we are assigned as referees. This assignment involved being referees for different areas of focus encompassing technical, marketing, project and as field referees. As it being our first time as trainees, we were not well-suited as field referees due to the fact that there is some experience needed. I speak for all of us when I say that there is a great amount of talent out there in Trollhättan and we have had the privilege to experience it first-hand.

As Nina and I were stationed as technical referees along with Emelie and another person from an external company. Our mission was to evaluate the technical aspects of the robot that the students had made as well as how they choose to program the robot but also how they set up the strategy during the field mission. Filip and Amanda participated in evaluating the projects that the students had, involving the Into Orbit-theme. The purpose was to present viable solutions for how humans could survive in space, and travel through it. Among all the students whom presented for us, all of them surprised us in ways I did not was possible from individuals in high school. One of the things I enjoy vastly is to encourage young minds to pursue and develop ideas that they have but also to watch how they did it. Below you can see the winning team in almost all categories, they did a brilliant job and hopefully we will be able to work with them in the future.

The winning team from High School Frida (year 9)

Additionally, we took part in an event at Lyrfågelskolan, a high school in close range to GKN. Here we presented the possibilities of working at GKN and how an everyday life is of an individual working with highly complex products. The engagement from the crowd was great and we felt that we sent out the message that we wanted, or even exceeded. Likewise here, in correlation to the event at First Lego League, we were overwhelmed with the high intellectual inputs the high school students had. We believe that there is great competence out there and we have the best way to take care of them through our internal high school, ITU (Industriteknisk Gymnasie).

This years trainees, Amanda & Emelie. Also the ITU-students Tim Klang & Alve Gröndahl at this years work fair at Lyrfågelskolan showcasing GKN Aerospace.

Now back to GKN, we basically only have three weeks left of our first rotation. Time has passed by incredibly fast this upcoming weeks are devoted to finishing up the projects we are currently working on as well as preparing for the next rotation period. This period surrounds a joint-project among all of us trainees toward Quality, which is going to be very exciting.

This was all from me this time, hope I will see you around!

Be referees

Time is flying and we have already been at the company for more than two months now!

As trainees, we received the honor of being referees in two different competitions this week. On Wednesday, me, Nina and Wictor were judges on Visionsdagen, a trade fair that is a final part of the project Gnistan. Gnistan is a cooperation project between Swedish Science Centers, Young Scientists and Vattenfall, with the aim of raising youth’s interest in science and technology, as well as giving them the opportunity to engage in society development.

The competition is based on a challenge in a topic that was “Design Your Energy Smart Future – Smart Water Management” and the groups that participated in this project were students in grade 8 from Strömslundskolan in Trollhättan and Centralskolan in Grästorp. It was really fun to be part of this project and to see the commitment that the young people showed with their well-thought-out ideas. Everything from different home water meters that showed how much water the household has used and what it costs, to treatment plants that can be placed in dirty lakes in poor countries. Some very innovative projects.

The excited referees at Visionsdagen!

Now on Saturday it’s time once again, then we all got the honor to be referees in this year’s edition of First Lego League at Innovatum. This competition is a knowledge and technology competition for young people between the ages of 10-16 and their tasks have been to develope innovative solutions to problems, building and programming a robot and marketing the solution and the team. This year the theme is “Into Orbit”, which means it is all about space and its science. Below you can see a small movie about this year’s edition and the missions that the robot will be able to solve.

It will be very fun and exciting to see all their projects!! May the best team win!!


Bonjour tout le monde!

During the past week I’ve had French customers visiting my department within the space division. Thanks to our rich product key within both the civil and military market are no visitors allowed to walk as they wish through the plant. Consequently they need to be escorted by a GKN employee, a mission I didn’t hesitate to take on. Besides walking our visitors to the gate, their office and the dining hall am I accompanying many interesting meetings concerning the development and manufacturing of the nozzle (a very advanced exhaust pipe) to Europe’s next launcher Ariane 6. Normally I work with manufacturing engineering related to the nozzle so the given opportunity to take part of the work behind the curtains and the hardware logic is not only worthwhile for our visitors but also for me.

I am sure that many of you have heard about SpaceX, founded by the storied entrepreneur Elon Musk. He is also the founder of Tesla and a couple of other world famous high-tech companies. SpaceX’s idea is to create a reusable launcher in contrast to the current launcher programs which are scrapped after one journey into space. This brilliant idea might sound as no-brainer but the advancement in technology has always been the focus which never brought reusability into the spotlight – until now. Naturally, this puts a lot of pressure on the well-established rocket manufactures due to the fact that cost have evolved into a crucial success factor. Another important factor is the private ownership in SpaceX, both NASA and ESA are founded by governmental coalitions. This has increased the competition and driven lead times of development of new hardware to new dimensions.

But what have my French customers to do with this? During the following weeks will GKN together with our customers optimize our product so that we can launch a highly competitive rocket into space. And how cool isn’t it that Trollhättan helps putting Europe on the map when it comes to exploring space?!

A short introduction to the configuration of Ariane 6.


A lot has happened in a short time!

Hello, our devoted blog readers!

It’s now my turn to write a few lines about my first time at the company, hold on, it has happened a lot in just a few weeks!

I am currently working at my home department where we work with Lean and Logistics, a department that soon will be called Operational Excellence, and I’ve been enjoying it very much! During the 4 weeks that I have been here I’ve got the opportunity to get to know the lovely people who work here and the vibe of the department. As a graduate engineer, you work at your home department for 10 weeks before you change to a new department, which is a relatively short period of time when you are new at your post. Therefore, I’ve tried to capture the context of the department and tried to be involved in the projects that has appeared. I’ve been working with visualization of value flows and operations, the 5S method, and at the moment I work with SOLV (which my colleague Karin Thörnblad has created) which is an optimization model for optimizing production scheduling. Thanks to this, I have met and worked with many people with different posts at the company, and that has been the most interesting part!

In addition, Wictor Dörrich and I got the opportunity to attend a workshop last week where we discussed branding, and I will soon attend another workshop where we will discuss strategies in the field of environment. These are such inspiring meetings which I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to participate in!

And finally, I have one more update – We have got our trainee assignment for this year! We will work with VR technology during this year and create a virtual study visit at GKN Aerospace Engine Systems in Trollhättan, with purpose to inspire people with interest in technology to seek and apply to positions at our company. An exciting project that will give us an increased knowledge about VR and hopefully result in a tools that the company can use for future PR purposes!

On top of all this, snow has fell over Trollhättan and the city is now beautifully covered in cripsy white snow. I wish you a great week! Cheers!

/Nina Nordberg

5 graduates out in the snow! 4 next to the sign, 1 behind the camera. Photo cred to Wictor Dörrich

Training Days

Dear blog readers!

Last week was a special one at GKN in Trollhättan, we had what is called Training Days which is a week full of lectures and presentations from different disciplines within the company. The purpose of Training Days is to educate the personnel and to provide all employees with new information and possibilities so that one can develop in the daily work. Courses that were offered were everything between heart and lung rescue, employeeship and Additive Manufacturing (AM).

One course that all of us trainees attended to was the introduction course in Jet engine theory where the basics of how a jet engine works is stepped through. A great course for new employees but also very giving for employees who want to refurbish their knowledge. One thing, among many other things, that we went through is the intake of air and ways of compressing it. More specifically we went through the philosophies of radial compression (Centrifugal compressors) and axial compression.

Jetmotor with Radial (centrifugal) compressor

Radial compression works by taking in air and compressing it by forcing it in a radial direction which usually ends up in the engine and aircraft being quite chubby looking. One typical aircraft ‘suffering’ from this look is the Swedish air force aircraft called Saab 29 Tunnan. The design of such a jet engine is quite simple but very robust with few rotating parts. Although being robust is a good thing, this very design allow for less parameters to be optimized or allow for changes in the design.

Jetmotor with Axial compressor

Another type of jet engine is an engine with an axial compressor instead. The air is being pushed axially along a rotating shaft from left to right seen in the picture above. This is often done by several compressor stages e.g. a Low Pressure Compressor (LPC) and a High Pressure Compressor (HPC), each compressor stage usually being a set of rotors. Here the design becomes a bit longer but less chubby and usually having a lot of different parameters that can be optimized or re-designed. An example of an aircraft having this kind of an engine is the Swedish air force aircraft called JAS 39 Gripen….and basically all other modern aircraft.

Common for the two different kind of engines is that there always has to be a combustion stage to add energy to the system. After the air has been compressed it is mixed with kerosene and ignited. The hot gas propagates further down in the engine, it sets the turbines in motion which are driving the different compressor stages and the fan which in turn allow for more air intake. Further, the gas is guided out from the engine, here though a nozzle which purpose is to further accelerate the gas so that a greater thrust can be achieved. After that it is all up to Newton’s Third Law to generate thrust in the direction of travel.

Thanks Newton!

The purpose of this blog post did not intend to give a short introduction in jet engine theory, but I guess that is what happens when one gets a bit to enthusiastic about technology, science and stuff. Perhaps you learned something or perhaps you found the lack of explanation annoying! Sorry about that!

One popular way of describing a jet engine can be done with the following figure.

The fan sucks the air in, the compressor squeezes it, the combustion ignites it and then it is blown out from the exhaust. Credit: Stanford edu

Graduates from Siemens on the GKN site!

Hello blog lovers!

We are happy to announce that we had our first external visit this week! A friendly group of Graduates from Siemens, Finspång, came to the GKN site in Trollhättan this wednesday and we were very happy to show them around. We presented our companies and graduate programs to eachother and found that there are many similarities between them two, but also interesting differences. Afterwards, they got the chance to see parts of our factory as we followed a product along its operations and processes through the work shops.

Thank you, Sanna Alladin, Nicky Dahl Alfredsson, Nathalie Hideborg, Simon Täufer and Andreas Wedberg! It was a pleasure having you over and to get to know you.

We look forward to keep in contact, and hopefully we will see you soon in Finspång!

Graduates from GKN and Siemens: Towards the future!