Tim Edwards

Tim Edwards

UK & Europe

Tim has 30 years’ experience as a stress engineer – principally in the aerospace industry working for British Aerospace and Rolls Royce, but also in the rail, gas turbine and power generation sectors. He has worked in composites for 15 years and has had a leading role in the design and certification of the composite wing of the airbus A400M military transport. Tim has also recently swapped wings for wheels, using his aerospace expertise to consult on the development of a supersonic car. The Bloodhound SSC is making an attempt on the world land speed record in 2015 and 2016 with an ambition to reach 1,050 mph. The car’s design speed makes it faster than a jet fighter at sea level and it is no surprise that the technologies supporting its development are closer to aerospace than automotive.

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Aerospace is a global industry that demands the very best engineers and engineering. Even today, 35 years since I left school and became a part of this profession, I am amazed daily by the ingenuity shown in new aerospace products and the sheer engineering know-how and skill that is demonstrated in bringing those products to market.

This amazement stems not only from the technical excellence embodied within a piece of aerospace engineering, but also the social organization that is needed to coordinate the efforts of the thousands of engineers, often separated by distance, time and language, involved in the development of something like a commercial airliner.

Atkins needs to be no less rigorous in delivering its contribution to these massive aerospace programs. We, too, operate on a global scale, across different time zones, and immense distances. We, too, must deliver products of consistently high quality to customers whose practices and standards differ, but whose demand for excellence is uniform. We, too, strive to progressively improve our quality.

So how do we achieve this? I believe the answer lies within a global governance system that is unequalled in efficiency and maturity amongst our competitors.

Using the Atkins model, engineers from our offices around the world, including our Seattle office which we opened in 2011, all use the same quality systems and our designated checkers in each office are measured against the same standards and in the same way.

In each office, engineers speak with local representatives of our global network of discipline heads, who in turn liaise constantly with their local head of engineering and with their counterparts in other offices, to develop aerospace products of a consistently high standard.

Technology has a key part to play as well. Our new Engineering Gateway – an online technical knowledge sharing hub developed in-house – supports this global network of engineering and serves as our common point of reference for aerospace engineering approaches, methods and standards. This innovative tool sits on our common, secure IT system which is fully compliant with ISO27001 standards. It is also carefully partitioned, ensuring that the intellectual property of each of our clients is completely preserved, including sensitive ITAR data.

Global quality management is achieved through a common quality management system and by our world-wide use of desktop video-conferencing. The ability of any of our engineers to speak face-to-face with any other engineer removes the barriers of geography that would otherwise exist. As a result, achieving the common understanding necessary to attain a consistent standard has become a reality and has been witnessed in the success of our newest office in Seattle, which is already delivering high quality work to local customers.

Our international aerospace team services an ever more diverse customer base, but achieves a common quality standard throughout. This guarantees that our customers receive the same excellent engineering solutions from Atkins no matter where in the world it is delivered. Having teams in different time zones also allows us to utilise every hour of the working day, with one engineering team seamlessly picking up the work when another finishes for the day.

All of this lies behind the work we deliver for aerospace customers across the world. So next time you read about a major engineering project and wonder at the engineering talent that has made that a reality, spare a thought for the co-ordination involved in creating these incredible products by teams separated by different time zones and thousands of miles.

Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Rest of World, UK & Europe,

As I write this I’m working out of our Seattle office, preparing to introduce the Bloodhound SSC project to an engineering audience at a US technical symposium in Seattle. It’s a project that has grabbed the fascination of countless people across the world – from its base in the UK to all the way across the Atlantic – and it’s easy to see why.

Bloodhound SSC’s mission profile is to beat the 763.035 mph world land speed record set by Thrust SSC in 1997 and hopefully raise the record to 1,000 mph. If the project is successful the vehicle will need all of the 135,000 horse power generated by its jet and rocket engines to allow it to cover a measured mile in a staggering 3.6 seconds.

Bloodhound is an extraordinary automobile and its design speed makes it faster than a jet fighter at sea level. It’s therefore no surprise that the technologies supporting its development are closer to aerospace than automotive.

Our aerospace team had the privilege of consulting on some aspects of the composite material elements behind the supersonic car’s construction, as well as applying the rigorous stress testing principles learnt from large aircraft development programmes to a car with the ambition of creating ‘the fastest man on earth’.

We’ve also had the opportunity to raise awareness of the project with a wide variety of audiences, from presenting at STEM-led school workshops in the UK and abroad to engineering events in the States.

As part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, a team of Atkins engineers are undertaking a workshop for Year 8 pupils at a Bristol school on Thursday 6 November. After being introduced to the Bloodhound SSC project and the engineering principles that lie behind the car, the students will then be invited to put that knowledge into practice by building their own balloon-powered Bloodhound and racing them against their peers.

Bloodhound’s mission is about more than just the engineering principles behind the car, and whether the team hit their target of 1,050 mph or not, the project will not only have challenged what is possible but also have helped to inspire tomorrow’s engineers.

You can read more about Atkins’ involvement in the Bloodhound project here. The Bloodhound project was also featured on a recent BBC Newsbeat report.

*picture credit: Stefan Marjoram

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