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Rafsan Chowdhury, Mechanical Engineer

Rafsan always dreamt of becoming a pilot when he grew up and as a child could often be found making paper aeroplanes of all different shapes and sizes - testing them against each other. Fast track a few years and he seems to have found the perfect career match working as a Mechanical Engineer for Rolls-Royce where he is helping to create a jet engine that will use renewable energy sources to reduce the demand on oil and reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation industry.

Age: 28

Job title: Mechanical Engineer

Company employed by: Rolls-Royce

When you were a child, what did you dream you’d be when you grew up?
A pilot.

What is the biggest impact your work will or could have in the future?
I am helping to create a jet engine that will use renewable energy sources to reduce the demand on oil and reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation industry.

What excites you most about STEM?
Working together with people from diverse, specialist backgrounds to create products that help progress humanity.

What do you love about your job? What would you change?
I love working on a physical product and knowing that my work is helping to carry people all over the world to see their families, go on special holidays or for those seeking a new life.
I would change the agility at which we can get things done. Working for a large organisation in a heavily regulated industry means that decisions can often take a long time to be reached.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?
Knowing that I am growing everyday as a person and making an impact.

What does a typical day at work involve?
Talking to my team, leading meetings to solve a problem, presenting to chief engineers, readings reports and learning about different parts of a jet engine.

What’s the most unexpected thing about your job?
The consequence of making a mistake can be devastating, but thankfully there are people that double and triple check our work and the aviation industry has an excellent safety record.

Did you have any role models when you were younger? What inspired you to do the job you’re doing now?
My role model was my father because he was an extremely hard worker and wanted to make the most of his life.
I actually fell into this job. We do not have any engineers in our family line and I did not have any guidance growing up. I applied for jobs in all mechanical engineering fields and luckily I was asked to interview at Rolls-Royce and I am thankful to have been given the chance to join this industry.

Any influential toys during childhood?
I used to make lots of different types of paper aeroplanes which was fun!

Your favourite subjects at school?
Physics… I absolutely love physics.
I also enjoyed Art because that allowed me to express my creative side.

Qualifications (school/college/university):

  • MSc Advanced Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College London.
  • BEng Mechanical Engineering from University College London.
  • A levels in Maths, Physics, English Language and Literature, Graphic Communication.

Your reason for choosing this career?
I can make an impact on people’s lives. Also, the third era of aviation is gearing up and the future looks exciting in this field.

Tell me about your career path to date?
After A-levels I got my first internship at an Insurance company working with the Marketing team. Following that, every summer I worked in various roles such as a Junior Architect, Human Resources, Operations in an Investment Bank and a Risk Analyst at an Insurance firm. All these early experiences helped me understand different sides of a business that I would otherwise have been unaware of.

After my third year of University I completed a one year internship with Rolls-Royce in the Defence business working with the Supply Chain team. After completing my internship, I spent the summer at California Institute of Technology undertaking a summer research fellowship. Working in a different country with a completely different culture to the UK was eye opening. I later completed my MSc at Imperial before joining the Rolls-Royce graduate scheme.

In the graduate scheme I worked as a Supply Chain engineer working on a detailed critical part. I then worked as a Whole Engine Design Engineer where I completed my Six Sigma Green Belt for delivering a concept solution to a design problem. I then had a mini attachment with the Government Relations team at the Rolls-Royce HQ where I learnt a lot about a FTSE 100 business and this opportunity allowed me to network with the C-Suite members of Rolls-Royce. I then completed my final attachment at Heathrow working directly with our customers British Airways.

After my graduate placement, I was selected to undertake the Extended Leadership scheme which is aimed at accelerating the career path of future engineering leaders for the company. I first led a team to deliver a design solution to Turbine blades and currently I am working as a Lifecycle Engineer, dealing with safety critical issues for the company.

If you could have any job what would it be? How does it differ from what you’re doing?
I love my current job and wouldn’t change it for anything!

Your advice to a young person considering a career in STEM?
As we grow old, we realise that the real meaning in life is to find fulfilment in our actions. A career in STEM will allow you to feel content knowing you are making a real difference in the world and you can leave behind a legacy.