“I am passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion, and I am actively working towards achieving this by mentoring girls and encouraging them to pursue STEM subjects."

Aysh pursued her degree at the University of Birmingham and is currently a second-year Systems Engineering Graduate in the Lightning Direct Effects team in Filton. She is also very much involved with the Filton Learning Hub - an Early Careers initiative that organises STEM and outreach activities, including one dedicated to girls aged 11 to 14 years that will take place on International Women’s Day. We exchanged with Aysh to learn more about her role in relation to the A320 Family aircraft, what inspired her to join the sector, and some of her most empowering moments at Airbus!

How long have you been working at Airbus?
I have been working at Airbus for 1.5 years as a graduate. Prior to that, I completed a 15-month internship with Airbus as part of my degree.

Can you tell us a bit about your role in relation to the A320 Family aircraft?
My home department is the transnational Lightning Direct Effects team, which is responsible for protection of all parts of all Airbus commercial aircraft from effects of lightning strikes and electrostatic discharge. Upon completion of my Graduate Scheme, I will be returning to this team and contributing towards ensuring the aircraft belonging to the A320 Family (among others) are safe from these electromagnetic hazards, for example, by assessing relevant in-service occurrences to ensure the continued airworthiness of the A320 Family fleet.

What inspired you to be a part of the aerospace sector?
My involvement with the aerospace sector was actually down to serendipity. I studied Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering, and initially I had no idea what I wanted to do following graduation. Then in my first year, during a chance conversation over lunch, a staff member at University happened to mention the aerospace sector. This led me to look into the aerospace sector and career opportunities. Then in my second year, the Integrated Design Project for that particular year turned out to be to design a light aircraft (the preceding second year cohort was tasked with designing a vertical farm for their project, so it really was down to chance!). This was my first introduction to the aerospace sector from an engineering perspective. Aircraft are an engineering marvel, and I was fascinated by the complexities of the different systems and the level of attention paid to ensure their safe functioning. This consolidated my initial desire to pursue a career in the aerospace sector, and so I applied for an internship with Airbus. I had such a fulfilling experience during my internship that I was able to decide beyond a shadow of doubt that this was the career I wanted.

Aysh, Systems Engineering Graduate in Filton

Concerning the beginning of your career at Airbus, what was the main drive that led you to apply to and be a part of this company?
I did a placement year at Airbus as part of my degree, and this experience irrevocably confirmed that this was where I wanted to be. The innovative nature of the projects keep you constantly stimulated; the scale of the company offers you uncountable opportunities of an infinite variety; and the diverse transnational culture of the company makes it a wonderfully welcoming work environment.

What do you like the most about your job?
Aside from the aircraft, what I like most about my job is the people I work with! I consider myself beyond fortunate to be able to work with wonderful colleagues who are always helpful and keen to support my pursuit of knowledge, skills and experience. I have a dedicated support network including Early Careers managers and Target Area Owners who support me in every possible way to ensure I get the most out of my Graduate Scheme. I have also made ‘fast friends’ with my fellow graduates, apprentices and interns of the Early Careers community, and it is a pleasure to work alongside them.

What is the most valuable advice you have been given, and is there any valuable advice you would like to give?
The most valuable piece of advice I have been given is this: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. Always.” This has always resonated with me as I am deeply passionate about supporting mental health and fighting the surrounding stigma. My advice to others is along the same lines: be kind and empathetic, don’t criticise or condemn. Try and understand the other person’s point of view.

What has been one of the most empowering moments at Airbus?
During my internship at Airbus, I was fortunate enough to meet the Executive Expert in Environment and Maturity during one of his visits to Filton, and I was able to discuss one of my internship objectives, which involved the development of a novel voltage measurement technique, with both the Executive Expert and my internship manager. I was humbled that they took the time out of their busy schedules to sit down with me and speak to me about the project and about my time at Airbus. This was at the very beginning of my internship, and I had barely begun working on the project, but their passion for the topic was infectious and it made me feel empowered to rise to the challenge. They then mentioned that there was the potential to publish a paper following the completion of the project, and expressed what a unique opportunity it would be to publish and present a paper so early on in my career. I saw the passion in their eyes, and their genuine desire to help me progress in my career. The trust that they placed in me to complete the project and the support they expressed that day fueled my journey for the next three years. The culmination of this journey was the successful publication and presentation of a conference paper, and I was able to prove that their trust in me was well placed. Their mentorship was ultimately what steered me and motivated me to achieve something I never dreamed would be possible in the early stages of my career.

What is the most important message you would like to send out to women considering a career in engineering? 
Don’t conform to stereotypes. Women can be engineers too! If engineering is what you are passionate about, work towards realising your ambition. Don’t be discouraged by the perception that engineering is a male-dominant field. The engineering sector is moving in the right direction to become more diverse. So don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you engineering is a man’s job. I have personally been encouraged, supported and taken seriously as a woman in engineering, and have been motivated by the female role models who hold senior positions at Airbus, including the Head of Fuel Management Domains.

Tell us about one of the most memorable experiences from your career at Airbus. What made it so special and unforgettable?
My most memorable experience so far at Airbus has been the opportunity to present a paper at the International Conference on Lightning and Static Electricity (ICOLSE) 2022 in Madrid, Spain! The paper I published was based on the novel voltage measurement technique I developed with my colleagues to measure voltages on carbon composite surfaces during lightning-strike testing. Thanks to Airbus, I was able to present my work onstage to experts from across the world, which was a unique opportunity for someone like me who had just embarked on their career. The pride and thrill I felt in that moment, standing on that stage, sharing my work with the scientific community, is unrivaled, and I will never forget that feeling. This experience fortified my passion for the field, and made me feel immensely proud of my contribution to the fields of aerospace and electromagnetics.

Aysh, Systems Engineering Graduate in Filton

What are the benefits of working at Airbus? 
The variety and wealth of opportunities available are myriad. The transnational nature of the company inherently makes it a diverse and welcoming environment. You can go to work every morning with a clear conscience knowing that you work for a company that is genuinely and openly committed to sustainability, and you can actively contribute towards it too. And you get to work with aircraft – what could be better than that?!

In what way do the values of Airbus relate to your own?
I am passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion, and I am actively working towards achieving this, for example, by mentoring girls and encouraging them to pursue STEM subjects. Therefore, the Airbus Value of respect in particular resonates with my own values and moral compass. The fact that Airbus has formally recognised Respect as a company value reassures me that the company culture recognises and promotes diversity and inclusion, and strives to ensure everyone is treated with respect and dignity. I have personally experienced this as someone who falls into many “minority” categories, including ethnicity, gender and experience. Despite being an Early Careers woman of colour, my experience at Airbus has been nothing but positive, and I know I have a voice – my views are heard, my input is valued, and my contributions are received with respect.

Tell us about your involvement with the Filton Learning Hub.
The Filton Learning Hub is run by Early Careers with the support of School Liaison, and I am a part of the Filton Learning Hub Leadership Team. We organise and resource STEM and outreach activities such as wingbend workshops, careers fairs and mock interviews in schools and universities. We are committed to reaching out to and supporting schools in economically disadvantaged areas, for example schools with a higher than average percentage of Free School Meals, and empower students in these schools to pursue careers related to STEM or aerospace.

What does the Learning Hub have planned for International Women’s Day 2023?
The Learning Hub has organised an event on site comprising a STEM activity, careers talks and a site tour for girls aged 11 to 14 years, to inspire them and educate them on STEM and aerospace careers, thus enabling them to make an informed decision when selecting their GCSE subjects. This is something that is personally close to my heart, and I am determined to do my utmost to empower the next generation of female engineers. 

Tell us a bit about your Reverse Mentoring experience with the Embrace Employee Resource Group (ERG).
As part of the Reverse Mentoring scheme run by the Airbus Embrace Employee Resource Group which is the Filton-based ERG committed towards diversity (primarily racial diversity), I had the opportunity to be a mentor to the Airbus UK Leadership Team. This allowed me to raise awareness on diversity and inclusion at Airbus by sharing my personal experiences, thoughts and views. I am confident that this will equip the Leadership Team with the insight required to work towards improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The fact that a member of the Leadership Team was willing to listen to me, a graduate at the start of the career, and take my views on board with an open mind, is a splendid example of how the company embodies the Airbus Value of Respect.

Do you have any hobbies? How do you enjoy spending your free time? 
I like to dance, read, and be creative. During my free time, I enjoy making handmade cards and scrapbooking memories, spending time with my friends, or exploring the countryside and being at one with nature.

Any fun facts you’d like to share?
Did you know that the presence of aircraft can actually trigger lightning? Aircraft can enhance the ambient electric fields around it and facilitate electrical breakdown through air, thus actively initiating lightning strikes! So thunderstorms are not the only way aircraft can be struck by lightning. But fear not, for we always put ‘safety first’ at Airbus, and a great deal of effort and design considerations have gone into ensuring aircraft are safe in the event of lightning strikes! 

Aysh's Career Path at Airbus

Systems Engineering Graduate – Lightning Direct Effects
Airbus in Filton, UK




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