Leonardo’s graduate engineers offer added insights

Leonardo’s graduate engineers are being empowered to share their fresh perspectives, asking them to play a role in driving forward some of their most high profile projects.

Leonardo's graduate engineers
Rapid Prototyping team pictured in 2018 when they were initially setting up their lab area. L-R: Tom Pitchforth, Matthew Green, Rory Hughes, Malcolm Wildgoose

UK Innovation Manager Tom Pitchforth, who oversees innovation activities across Leonardo’s UK sites, believes that some of the company’s most high-profile programmes can benefit from their fresh perspectives.

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He said: “If we avoid emphasising just how demanding or complex the challenge is, they don’t perceive any barriers to leveraging the latest technology and methods to harness their innovation to realise the right solution. Our job is to give them a clear path ahead and as much empowerment as we can.”

A case in point being two of Leonardo’s Graduate Engineers, Matthew Green and Malcolm Wildgoose, who originally worked at aerospace engineering company Leonardo in summer placements together. Matthew and Malcolm have been given the opportunity of taking the lead on the company’s Rapid Prototyping innovation, Leonardo said is at the cutting edge of new technology such as the next generation Tempest programme.

Leonardo's graduate engineers
Leonardo’s Matthew Green

Pitchforth defined Leonardo’s Rapid Prototyping activities as acting as a fast track to test new technology.

“With the goal of acting as first movers into new technological domains, engineers use readily available resources to reconfigure existing capability to repurpose it in order to amplify its potential for the commercial market,” he said. “Dedicated lab areas are assigned at Leonardo’s sites to develop cutting edge techniques and technologies to rapidly trial new prototypes, giving potential customers the opportunity to gain early exposure to emerging capability.”

Matthew and Malcolm have already conducted a successful demonstration to customers for a prototype that could be introduced into the business as a viable prospect in as little as two years.

Leonardo's graduate engineers
Leonardo’s Malcolm Wildgoose

Matthew said: “We want to fast track technology by bringing together the best elements of a lab environment with a more social space where we can bounce ideas off each other. So we acquired powerful computer assets, 3D printers and soldering equipment, alongside a touch screen where we can plot progress and test ideas. Our whole approach is ‘let’s get something done and see it working’.”

Malcolm added: “Matthew brings hardware expertise and I see technology from a systems perspective, so it is great when we can collaborate and quickly get an algorithm running on real hardware. You’re a step closer to creating new technology.”

Tom wants to ensure that the expertise of their existing engineers is not just passed on to the next generation, but that those same engineers help the next generation feel fearless about what they can achieve. He said: “Matthew and Malcolm have been working together in our advanced technology facility for some months now, de-risking highly complex technical challenges. They have both seen our technology up close with fresh eyes and then put this perspective into action without any preconceptions. Our ethos is it is OK to fail, but fail fast and fearlessly, then pick yourself up and try again. I’m excited to see where their innovation will take us next.”