Blog Post 2 – Neil Irwin 21st January 2017

Blog Post 2 – Neil Irwin 21st January 2017

Hello again readers, in my second guest blog post I want to share a bit more about what my current work, as well as reflect a little on the past few months, and look to the future for where I might be going next.

The present:

So, to business: what is it that I actually do here? I work in the engineering function, space rotors department, aerodynamics team. If I had to give my placement a title, I would call it something like “Product development of computational design tools”.

The first of my two primary objectives is to create a design tool to rapidly evaluate the robustness of concept turbine designs. To do this, I am automating the turbine design evaluation process in multi-objective optimization software. This involves building an automated workflow, which integrates our turbine performance analysis code with various processing scripts I have written. The idea is that the user can choose a base turbine design, and the tool will run a large number of slight variations on this base design through the performance analysis code to establish how robust the base design is (i.e. how sensitive the performance of the base design is to variation). This should greatly improve our ability to select robust concept designs, and should help GKN respond to our customers’ design questions faster.

My second main objective is to create a platform-independent gas state data processing program. This program can then be integrated into various other design tools and methods we have. For example, we could call the data processing program during an aerodynamics CFD simulation to analyse the gas state properties over time.

I have enjoyed these main objectives a lot over the last few months, as they have involved a great deal of problem solving and learning new things – skills that I love to use and make me excited to get up in the morning! The rest of my time is taken up with admin, graduate development tasks, and preparing for an upcoming new objective of running computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations on one of our components.

The past:

A lot of interesting things have happened over the last few months, the most interesting being the graduate visit to Europe in December. During this trip, we visited Fokker, ESA, and ASL in the Netherlands and France. I greatly enjoyed these visits, as well as the team building aspect of spending a week on the road with my fellow graduates. Perhaps surprisingly, we managed not to kill each other despite spending a full 9 days with 8 people in a minivan driving across Europe. I think I speak for the whole group in saying that we had a very positive experience and are grateful to Magnus Hallberg and others in GKN Sweden for facilitating this week.

The future:

We are very fortunate to be planning a second visit week in late February, this time to the UK. Here we will meet Nigel Stein and Kevin Cummings for Q and A sessions, which I think will be an invaluable insight to the top flight leadership of the company. We will also visit various GKN plants across the country. Furthermore, we are being joined by our American counterparts on the graduate scheme, a good opportunity for networking and hearing about GKN across the pond.

I’ve now crossed the half way point of my time in Sweden, which has led me to turn my attention to placement number two. There are some interesting options being discussed, including joining the legal team, communications and marketing, or moving into the driveline side of the business. Last week I had a really positive discussion with our director of intellectual property in Redditch, so I could be working on protecting our inventions and overcoming patent infringement issues soon – watch this space!


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