Why study engineering?

Heathrow UTC EngineeringNearly everything we use in our day-to-day lives has been ‘engineered’ in some way, from cars to computers, from web pages to widgets and microchips to motorways.

Engineering uses scientific knowledge to solve practical problems and create better products, machines, processes, systems and infrastructure.

Engineers have an impact on every part of our lives through design and production and the technology they have developed.

The engineering industry has many different sectors – mechanical, civil, electrical, electronic, chemical and software engineering and aviation of course!


5.4 million people are currently employed in engineering jobs in the UK and a further 2.74 million openings are expected to be created by 2020*, making engineering a valuable career choice for many young people.

Specialising in either mechanical or avionic systems, qualified aircraft engineers usually work for airlines; maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) divisions of aerospace manufacturers; or specialist aircraft maintenance companies.

There are also military routes via the Royal Air Force, while the wider aviation community (which spans everything from flying clubs to business jets) also requires qualified engineers to maintain its fleets.

The airport environment provides a wealth of opportunities in engineering to support the super-city that is in and around Heathrow. Teams work on a wide range of developments including construction, facilities management and maintenance projects. With a huge capital investment programme scheduled at Heathrow Airport for the coming years, engineers are more important than ever before.

*Source: Engineering UK 2013

Employment and the UK aerospace sector

The UK has world-class capabilities in the manufacture of sophisticated parts for modern aircraft, boasting a high-tech, high-skill industry. Global aerospace manufacturers look to the UK for such components because of the country’s highly proficient workforce, institutional knowledge, and strong science and research base.

Over time the UK has developed a strong competitive advantage in four key high-value, complex areas of modern aircraft; wings, engines, aero structures and advanced systems.

The aerospace industry has a large-scale need for a broad range of skills and disciplines, including engineering, science, project management, production, service, training and finance. Current skills issues are having an impact on growth within the aerospace sector, with above average levels of hard-to-fill vacancies, difficulty retaining staff and technical skills gaps among existing employees.

Next generation aircraft will require radically different shapes and airframe technologies to unlock performance, cost and weight improvements demanded by the market. With this in mind, it’s vital that these resource gaps are filled.

For anyone considering entering into the UK aviation industry, there are a wide range of opportunities open to them.