With 14 rocket firings a day forming part of a research and development contract under the European Space Agency's (ESA) Mars Robotic Exploration Program you would have heard the Moog employees, even if you haven't seen them.
Moog Inc. specialises in the development and manufacture of in-space propulsion systems as part of its larger product portfolio as an integrator of precision control components and systems. Acquired from AMPAC in August 2012, the company and local employees have been alive and well at Westcott in many different guises including British Aerospace and the Rocket Propulsion Establishment since WWII, playing a key role in the park's heritage.
Some of the Company's employees have been working at Westcott for over 40 years but you may have noticed them walking around the park with a new vigour thanks to a fresh lease of life injected through Moog’s takeover.
Site Manager Rob Selby, who himself originally joined Moog as a graduate engineer at Moog in 2002, emphasises that there is a strong will to invest in the future through apprentices and employee development.
“We are lucky that we have a huge wealth of experience in the long standing members of staff here at Westcott and it is important that we couple this with new graduates and apprentices to not only grow and develop our future propulsion engineers but to provide a strong platform from which to grow.”
“Recruiting personnel with the right practical and technical skill sets for propulsion engineering is a difficult challenge. We are looking to the future with the help of ATG Training in Aylesbury who offer Mechanical Machining and Engineering Apprenticeships.”
Along with five other lads, 17 year-old Ed Smith from Aylesbury attended an open day at Moog in the summer where he fought off stiff competition in a series of assessments to successfully land the role as the Moog Apprentice.
Ed is now working at Moog full-time, with a day release to attend ATG Training, working towards a NVQ Level 3.
“Since joining Moog I've been perfecting my precision skills at college which is pretty important as I will be doing micro drilling to create fuel injectors,” explained Ed. “I did AS Levels at Aylesbury Grammar School but wanted an alternative route to school which is when I discovered the opportunity with Moog.”
“I really like being able to do a practical course knowing that I'm working towards a qualification that will help me in a job that I've already secured rather than sitting in a classroom reading text books that are not relevant to my work and ambitions. I would be very bored if I was doing that!”
Ed's new 'teacher' and manager, Phil Bateman, was once an apprentice himself and attended a similar assessment day at Westcott before eventually joining what was then British Aerospace in 1997.
“We're very pleased with Ed's progression so far and are confident that we have chosen the right man for the job,” comments Phil. “Ed has been top of his class which has made us very proud of him and we have developed a skills matrix to hone his skills even further. To put it into perspective, the micro drilling Ed will be doing often involves drilling items that are thinner than a strand of hair from your head, so Ed's precision work is of paramount importance.”
Moog is as committed to Westcott Venture Park as it is to its employees with J-Site providing the perfect location for rocket firings, which Rob Selby is keen to stress only takes place during the working day so as not to upset any neighbours.
Rob concluded: “The continued investment from the UK in the space industry coupled with the park's heritage and infrastructure for rocket testing makes Westcott extremely unique. Our close proximity to the space clusters at Harwell and Culham makes the Westcott site a great site for Moog to grow its current capabilities. Development of young apprentices like Ed who has already become part of the Moog family, are key to growing these capabilities. In fact, before Ed knows it, there will even be components that he’s worked on floating around in space and on their way to Mars!”
On behalf of all at Westcott Venture Park, The Rocket would like to extend a warm welcome to Moog's new apprentice, Ed Smith, and look forward to reporting more exciting news from Moog in future issues.
For further information about Moog visit www.moog.com