In our Bright Lights series, we showcase some of our brilliant employees and their experience of working here at STG Aerospace. This time, Ryan Vincent talks about his first year at STG, since being snapped up by the R&D Team after collaborating on a product design project at university. He talks about his eye-opening first 12 months in the world of work and aerospace.
It was only a year ago that Ryan Vincent joined STG as a Graduate Design Engineer in the Research and Development (R&D) Team, having joined fresh out of university and with a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Product Design. To Ryan it feels like he is operating in a different world. And his relationship with STG, in fact, goes back a little further, to a fortuitous project that Ryan collaborated on with STG as a student.
Originally from Wootton Basset in Wiltshire, Ryan moved to South Wales to study a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Product Design at Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2018. Three years later, he went straight on to study for his MSc. Aerospace had not been on his radar, but then an opportunity arose that he could not resist.
As part of his MSc, he had to complete several short projects throughout the year, as well as one longer-term design project carried out over the course of three months. This could either be based on his own idea, or it could be in collaboration with a business to work on a particular concept.
In 2022, STG Aerospace worked with Cardiff Metropolitan University to find a suitable MSc student who could work on a new concept for the company’s renowned floor path marking system. The purpose was manifold, including to interact with and support local educators, be a socially responsible employer as well as scout out promising new design talent brimming with new ideas.
Having seen a presentation by STG, Ryan was immediately interested and applied for the project and the rest, as they say, is history.
Ryan put forward a proposal for making STG’s floor path marking more customisable. He explains:
“I was given the opportunity to research, ideate the design, the concept and prototype, and even carry out low-scale manufacture of my design. STG were so helpful and gave me support and stock to work with. I presented my project several times to various team members at STG.
“It was a big learning experience and gave me lots of insights into product design in ‘real life’. Of course, I knew in the back of my mind that if they liked my work there could potentially be a job opportunity, so I was delighted that it led straight to a role in the R&D team, after I finished my degree.”
University versus the world of work
Transitioning from the creative freedoms of product design in university was quite a shift for Ryan.
“It has been truly eye-opening and I’ve experienced so much in the past year. One of the major differences between product design in university and in the real, working world is that at uni there are no filters. You’re encouraged to be as free as possible with your ideas and they deliberately don’t restrict you.
“At STG we must be more funneled in our focus. There are so many other factors to consider, such as the cost of materials, practicalities of manufacture and all-important safety.
“But there is still freedom for creativity, just in a more controlled context. For example, anything you design for a cabin needs to fit within the parameters of what is already in place, so you can be creative, but it ultimately has to fit the space it is being designed for.”
Whilst Ryan is a member of the Photoluminescent R&D team and has carried out multiple projects during his first 12 months, he has also been spending three days per week working with other STG teams to gain a better understanding and 360-perspective of the whole business and commercial process.
He has spent time in sales support, in the engineering and supply teams as well as in the sales and marketing department. In the latter, Ryan even spent time helping to design his year’s stand for the big aircraft interiors show, AIX in Hamburg.
“It was really interesting, thinking about how visitors to the stand might interact with our products and how this has to be reflected in the design. It has been fascinating spending time with each team, you need to flick a switch in your brain each time you swap departments, because their focus is so different.”
He is proud to be in the final stages of managing his own first project from start to finish, working on new product packaging.
“I have done the research, worked with stakeholders and suppliers, designed prototypes, carried out testing and written up the reports, so it is now just a case of manufacture and implementation. It’s exciting to have almost completed a project that I’ve run from start to finish. It has taught me a lot, particularly about the importance of getting people on board, so you can keep moving forwards.”
Working for STG
The difference of working with STG whilst still an MSc student and now, as an employee, could not be more pronounced.
“Whilst I was working on my MSc project, my contacts in the R&D team gave me as much help and support as I needed. Now, as an employee, there is a focus on giving me more and more independence, because the best way to learn and develop your skills is, of course, on the job.
“Everyone at STG has been great, both at supporting me but also giving me opportunities to run with ideas. There is a really great social aspect. It doesn’t matter what level you're at, you have conversations with people throughout the company, and everyone is friendly.
“I’m also really enjoying the work itself. Before joining I hadn’t really considered aerospace, but I feel at home in this industry and the design work involved is very interesting and extremely varied, from mechanical and electrical design to user experience design, touching on a lot of different design principles. There is always work to do, always a new project to get started on, and I’m learning every day!”