Principal Manufacturing Engineer
EADS Astrium

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Harry L

0.00.00 My name’s Harry L. I work at Astrium Limited in Stevenage and I’m the Principal Manufacturing Engineer. As a Principal Manufacturing Engineer I have responsibility for the production of the satellite structure itself which is basically in two parts. I also mentor apprentices, look after apprentices and assess their MBQ’s and undertake outreach activities with local schools as well.

0.00.30 I think originally the turning point for me into engineering, there were two influences. One was my father who was an engineer as well and a teacher at school when I was actually in junior school. One of the lessons, the teacher took us all out into a playground and she had a model hovercraft and part of the process afterwards was the teacher gave us, how does a hovercraft work? Why does it float on land? Why does it float on water? Why doesn’t it sink?

0.01.00 And it was what’s involved in this? And that was sort of one of the main triggers, and I’d also watched my father working in the shed, he built a clock and he was very into woodwork and making things with his hands and I used to spend hours out there with him, just talking, just making things. I had my own little set of tools, etc. I wanted to travel, I wanted to see the world, so I thought Merchant Navy. I didn’t want to join the Royal Navy at the time, I wanted Merchant Navy. So I applied for a job.

0.01.30 I had to gain O level mathematics for entry into the college in Plymouth. Unfortunately when I was at school I failed the O level maths and that was, oh, you know, what am I going to do sort of thing. I just set my heart on it and because of that I didn’t get the job. But I wasn’t going to let it beat me, I’ve got to do something, it’s my passion, you know, I wanted to earn as well.

0.02.00 So I thought, well I’m young and so I’ll see what there is out there, apprenticeship schemes. And that was the difficult part for me, was not actually getting into the Merchant Navy. So I was very lucky and I did very well in an interview and won an apprenticeship with the Ministry of Defence as a Fitter and Turner. Basically it’s using lathes and milling machines, etc. At the end of my apprenticeship unfortunately they didn’t have a job for me, so I was made redundant.

0.02.30 They realised my abilities and they knew of a local company that wanted a junior production engineer. So they sent me down for an interview, they phoned up and said we have this young lad, do you have anything? And fortunately they did. Went down for an interview and they were that pleased because I’d put myself forward, that they actually offered me a job and I stayed with that company for well over two years and it was manufacturing loud speakers. It was a loud speaker company. My work/life balance is about 50/50.

0.03.00 I enjoy my work and I spend a fair amount of time at work but I have the needs and requirements of my family and I want to see my family growing up. And I like the leisure time as well, and that’s meeting people, going out socialising, etc. So quite a good balance. I do spend a lot of time at home. One of my proudest moments I think is the birth of my children on a person level. Brilliant.

0.03.30 I was at the birth for both of my children and that is superb. I’m very proud career wise, to be working here at Astrium, to have done as well as I have and be in the position that I am. I haven’t been to university, so I haven’t gone through a degree route but I’ve got a very responsible position and I’m very proud of that.


Harry L is the Principal Manufacturing Engineer at Astrium Limited in Stevenage. He has had two main influences in his life – his father and a school teacher. He says, “I’m very proud career wise, to be working here at Astrium, to have done as well as I have and be in the position that I am. I haven’t been to university, so I haven’t gone through a degree route but I’ve got a very responsible position and I’m very proud of that”.

More information about Engineering technicians

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

87%  male 
13%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Engineering technicians perform a variety of technical support functions to assist engineers with the design, development, operation, installation and maintenance of engineering systems and constructions.
Entrants to training usually posses GCSEs/S grades. Vocational training consists either of full-time study for a BTEC/SQA award followed by two years on-the-job training, or an apprenticeship leading to an NVQ/SVQ at Level 3 or 4. An NVQ/SVQ in Aircraft Engineering Maintenance at Level 3 plus further professional qualifications are required to become a licensed aircraft engineer.
  • Plans and prepares work and test schedules based on specifications and drawings;
  • Sets up equipment, undertakes tests, takes readings, performs calculations and records and interprets data;
  • Prepares estimates of materials, equipment and labour required for engineering projects;
  • Diagnoses and detects faults and implements procedures to maintain efficient operation of systems and equipment;
  • Inspects completed aircraft maintenance work to certify that it meets standards and the aircraft is ready for operation;
  • Visits and advises clients on the use and servicing of mechanical and chemical engineering products and services.
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Top 10 industries for this job
Head offices, etc 12939
Specialised construction 10208
Public admin. & defence 6662
Machinery, etc 5230
Metal products 5050
Other trans. equipment 4822
Architectural & related 4333
Warehousing, etc 3784
Repair & installation 3693
Wholesale trade 3341
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