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  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Chris Bullock

You can't just bolt anything to a plane.  As an Aerospace engineer, you need to ensure that what you design conforms to the relevant regulations and safety standards.

What's your job about?

I have the privilege of working on the Australian C130J aircraft, by providing engineering support to the platform.

Typically I design repairs and structural modifications, often conduct investigations into causes of different problems while working with the support of a highly skilled team to design and develop the best solutions.

Currently, I’m positioned in the Deeper Maintenance office, wherein this role I am part of the team that extensively disassembles the aircraft, to inspect, test and repair the parts of the plane that can only be accessed while the aircraft is undergoing a deeper overhaul cycle.

What's your background?

I grew up in the Kurrajong NSW (Western Sydney) on a farm/property, riding bikes and building forts.

Being a bit of a naughty kid I was almost expelled from school multiple times, so I ended up going to four different schools, but despite my rocky record, I finished my HSC (year 12). For my final project at school, I designed and built a full size and fully operational vintage styled car from the ground up, where I handcrafted all the parts and components except for the wheels and motor. I was fortunate that because  I was used to doing my own thing and had the rapport of some key teachers, I had the free reign to undertake this project. Ironically the magnitude and ultimate success of that project gave me more job opportunities than any school grade ever could, as it showed particular skill sets that are invaluable to the workforce but are not taught in schools.

Leaving school I worked as a mechanic and parts interpreter where I developed excellent people skills and ways of how to interact effectively with different personality types.

While I was working full time, I attended night classes at SIT studying Naval Architecture and Mechanical Engineering, as I was interested in these fields and always wanted to design and build anything that moved (ships, trains, planes, cars and of course the death star). Graduating from that I studied at USYD learning about air and spacecraft, as I figured If I could do that then I could pretty much build anything.

After graduation, I gained employment at a refrigeration company tasked with designing large commercial refrigeration units, some of which you will see and use when you go shopping at Coles, Woolworths and Dan Murphys.

After working there for about a year, I was offered a position at Airbus (at that time Australian Aerospace) as a structural design engineer and have been here since.

 Could someone with a different background do your job?

Provided you have the right qualifications, yes.  I work with a team that all have very different backgrounds, either different countries of origin, different ages, different careers prior, different sex (not just men), different religions and different family circumstances.

To be an aerospace engineer, you are often presented with tricky and unknown problems…

First; and perhaps most importantly, you need a mindset to see them as challenges and not too hard.

Secondly: it is ok to not know the answer, we work together and everyone is strong in some way and weak in others, but working together we always find the cause and always an answer.

Thirdly: you need to be responsible for making sure you do the ‘right job’, not a ‘good enough’ one. Peoples lives are at stake, and you don’t put them at risk because it is easier to take a short cut, don’t just strive for excellence, be excellent!

 What's the coolest thing about your job?

I have the opportunity to work with some really unique technologies, and the things we are putting on the aircraft (countermeasures, antenna, and various devices etc.) are all cutting edge technologies that haven’t been done before.

Every day I learn something new.

I also work in a great supportive and engaging environment (which you can only really appreciate if you have worked in a toxic environment with horrible people).  I love coming to work each day and there aren’t too many people who can honestly say that.

 What are the limitations of your job?

You can't just bolt anything to a plane.  As an Aerospace engineer, you need to ensure that what you design conforms to the relevant regulations and safety standards. Unlike most other fields of engineering, aircraft are extremely regulated due to the risks associated with failure/crashing and the possibility of putting peoples lives and wellbeing at risk. So no, unfortunately, you can't just bolt on a flame thrower, missile launcher,  60” plasma and put a jacuzzi in the back.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Don’t be afraid to explore job opportunities outside what you studied, you never know where they may lead and if you might actually like doing that more.
  • If you REALLY want something.. nothing and no-one can stop you, you WILL find a way to make it happen..
  • Uni may be terrible at the moment, life on the other side is nothing like uni (thank goodness!)