Now are all of us graduates back in Sweden again after one week’s business trip around Europe. As you may understand, will the upcoming blog post be characterized by various travel memories, pictures, name dropping and interesting stories about all companies and places we have visited.
The first visit we made was to ESTEC which is operated by the European Space Agency (ESA) and located about 1h southwest of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. ESA is responsible for the research and development of Europe’s space initiatives.
We started the day by meeting our guide Isabelle, a veteran at ESA, who showed us around all day. We also met on the ESA cat (yes they have a cat, something we should adapt at GKN). The day started with a guest lecture by Paul Spudis, an American lunar scientist, who lectured about his research on “the Value of the Moon” and talked about how we could use the moon as a resource. The subject was a little controversial and Spudis got many questions, but generally it was a very interesting lecture.
After the lecture, we met Joerg Wehner (Head of Institutional and Infrastructure Coordination Office at ESA) and Eike Kircher (Head of Basic Technology Research Program Section) who told us about ESA as an organization and how international cooperation works. We also got to visit ESA’s Material Lab where last year’s trainee Joel Larsson is doing his international rotation. We met Ana Brandão (Material Engineer) who showed us around ESA’s extremely impressive laboratory. I think many of us drooled when we got to see their equipment. We also got a visit to the Propulsion Lab by Jose Gonzalez del Amo (Head of the Electric Propulsion Section), who showed us the latest in ESA’s propulsion research.
The day ended with a 3D movie of the International Space Station and tour of ESA’s Space Exhibition Center. To sum up the visit, I have to say that we could notice that they receive over 8400 visitors a year because they were incredibly hospitable. We also met a lot of interesting people who gave us a good insight into the organization. And of course, the cat was a highlight! Certainly a very good visit!
Have you ever wondered who’s making cars drive? Apparently it’s GKN! Like Aerospace is saying “making things fly”, Driveline’s slogan is “we make cars drive”. Can you guess GKN’s hypothetical vacuum cleaner company slogan?
“We make things suck!”
We visited GKN Driveline outside of Paris to learn more about our sister company. It was a great visit. Among others we met the site manager, a program manager, a commercial manager and an engineering manager. They told us about their business and showed us some of their contant velocity joints and drive shafts while providing advanced technical explanations for how they work. It was really fun to meet these inspiring people. We are forever grateful for their hospitality. I can recommend you go there.
You would recognize the atmosphere of the company well. Like Aerospace, Driveline emphasizes high quality, innovation and advanced technology. The biggest difference between companies, except the fact they make gadgets for cars and we for aircrafts, is the coffee. We were offered great coffee which was served with heavy cream. Be sure to get a cup when you are there.
Christmas is approaching, which also means that the time at our home departments starts to come to an end. Since this is the last week of our rotation, we have all got quite a lot to complete before we leave. In one way, it is nice to be able to finalize and tick off different projects but in other ways it is a bit sad to leave the department and all the colleagues I have come to know. “Time flies”, is a common saying, and so it has really been. Fortunately, this is not a “goodbye”, but rather an “until next time”, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we are very excited for our next trainee rotations.
Before we start our next rotations, it is time for our second activity week which we have planned for the last couple of weeks. For our previous activity week, as you loyal readers surely remember, we went to Stockholm where we among other things got to visit OHB and SSC, two exciting space companies. For this activity week we have chosen to put the bar higher and push our budget to max. We will therefore go on a road trip in Europe, including Amsterdam and Paris as stops, which will be really exciting. Exciting partly because of the companies we will visit and partly because we will spend time with each other 24/7 for over a week, which can be intensive. But hopefully everything will be fine and make us an even tighter group!
On Friday morning we will begin our journey and for the coming week we will visit ESA, Fokker, Safran and GKN Driveline. It will be a hectic schedule, but we will surely learn a lot. I am especially interested in visiting Safran and to meet my contact person there, sine I am the one who have been responsible for organizing this particular visit. Of course I am also looking forward to visiting two beautiful European capitals: Amsterdam and Paris, and hope that we will have time for some sightseeing between business visits. I think that it is fun with other languages so I have already begun to repeat useful French phrases, hoping to be able to show off with them during the trip. You will hear more about our activity week next week when Maria and Alexander are going to update you about our lives as aerotrainees, so keep an eye out
À plus tard!
Supplier meeting – introduction to the Aerospace standard
Yesterday, Emma, Signe, Alexander and I participated in a networking event arranged by Aerospace Cluster Sweden. Potential suppliers were invited to learn more about how it is to work within the Aerospace industry. Two of our current suppliers told their story of how to become certified to AS9100 standard (the Aerospace industry’s answer to ISO 9001). To be able to be a player in the Aerospace industry you “have to” be certified to a specific standard due to strict requirements of quality and safety, for example traceability of documentation.
As a graduate, it’s really fun to learn more about the industry from different perspectives and to get the opportunity to network with other companies. This time it was by representing GKN as a customer, which was very educational. During lunch we talked to two men who are working at a processing company in Ulricehamn and they told us about their challenge of finding young people that want to work within the indsen ustry. We told them about our graduate project since one part of the project is to visit all the secondary schools in the area of Trollhättan and present how it is to work with technology and engineering. They invited us to their company in Ulricehman so hopefully we can learn more from each other.
This week we graduates are finishing our work at the home departments and looking forward to our trip to Europe that begins on Friday.
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way /Maria
Here is another post about our international experiences. Last week, Philip and I were in Germany to visit GKN Driveline in Lohmar, which is a small town outside of Cologne. The aim of the trip was for me to meet my mentor face to face. As part of IGP, each participant get a mentor and from this year it’s a person placed abroad that will guide you through the program. However, the trip didn’t start as fortunate as we hoped since it was snow chaos in Gothenburg and the airport was closed the whole morning. We arrived three hours later than expected but in Germany the weather showed its best side and it was 13 degrees and sunshine.
During the day we spend at the site, we got to meet a couple of people who told us about their special areas and we got an overview of the work in Lohmar. They don’t have any production at their site and instead they are focusing on research and developing. It was very interesting to visit another GKN-site since there were a lot of differences compared to our site in Trollhättan. In the evening, we had dinner with my mentor and of course we ate schnitzel. It was very nice to get more time with my mentor, to get to know him better as well as discuss some ideas about my next placement.
On our way back to Sweden we were very unlucky since our flight in Copenhagen got cancelled due to technical problems and we got to spend one night there. The next day, the bad luck continued and there were more problems with the plane (important to point out that it was not a problem with our products) and in the end we had to change plane. 17 hours later than expected, we finally arrived in Sweden and even if we had a lot of flight related problems it was still a really nice trip.