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Incorporated Engineer (IEng)

Christopher Tudsbury BEng (Hons) IEng MRAeS MIET InstLM MCMI

Published: 15/02/2024

Education and qualifications
MSc Intelligent Maintenance Engineering (current CPD), University of Central Lancashire
BEng (Hons) Mechanical Maintenance Engineering, University of Central Lancashire
Foundation Degree Aeronautical Engineering Manufacture, University of Wales (NEWI)
National Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering, Deeside College
National Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering, Macclesfield College
Higher Technical Apprenticeship in Engineering Technology, Airbus UK

Job title
Engineering Lead

Employer: BAE Systems (Air Sector)




What inspired you to become an engineer or pointed you towards an engineering career?
There are three reasons which I feel played a key role in inspiring me to become an engineer. When I was younger my dad would take me to air shows, where watching military aircraft blew my mind. Coupled with this I lived close to an international airport so there was never a day I didn’t see an aircraft flying, be it from my window at home or from the school playground. Finally, I was obsessed with taking things apart and putting them back together again. All these things collectively planted a seed which later inspired me to become an engineer.

Please describe your role or position within your workplace.
In my current role on the F35, I lead a team of engineers within the airframe planning team, playing a crucial role in the product lifecycle. My responsibilities involve embodying change, modifications and translating design intent into process planning documentation. This sort of documentation is vital for various other departments, aiding in the manufacturing of products. I also regularly chair meetings and conduct one-on-one sessions with my team members, focusing on their performance and professional development.

Can you describe a typical working day?
Over the years, my typical working day has greatly evolved. In the current hybrid work environment, my routine is now split between working from my home office and the workplace, with weekly university visits for studies. My day usually starts by reviewing my to-do list to prioritise tasks, I maintain regular check-ins with my team and attend various meetings pertinent to my role. Occasionally, I dedicate time to participate in committee meetings or to mentor or coach others as required. At the end of the day, I've developed a practice of reflecting on my day's work to identify areas for improvement. Lastly, I review my diary for the next day to determine the essential tasks and prepare accordingly.

Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
One of the primary challenges I face is translating the technical aspects of my role to non-technical audiences. While this can be demanding, I find the process rewarding because it often provides a fresh perspective and deeper insight into the work. Additionally, the nature of my role is fast paced, which, when combined with stringent safety requirements, adds an extra layer of complexity and challenge to my daily tasks.

What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
What I enjoy most about my work is the incredible variation it offers. Each day presents an opportunity to challenge myself and work alongside experts in various fields, making every day a learning experience. This constant exposure to diverse perspectives and skill sets not only enhances my professional growth but also keeps my work life dynamic and engaging. The thrill of continually expanding my knowledge and abilities in such a stimulating environment is one of the things that I find most rewarding and fulfilling about my job.

Is there a great professional achievement or high-profile accomplishment that you would like to tell us about?
There are a few that stand out at different stages of my career. One of the early milestones in my professional journey was becoming one of the first apprentices in the UK to successfully complete a Higher Engineering Apprenticeship in Engineering Technology. This achievement, accomplished with Airbus UK, marked a significant moment in my career. Being part of one of the initial cohorts to attain this was incredibly fulfilling. Adding to the significance of this accomplishment, the late Sir Alan Jones personally presented my certificate to me. Receiving recognition from such a distinguished figure was not only an honour but also added a special touch to an already memorable achievement.

Later in my career one of my most significant professional achievements was being part of a team that successfully implemented and delivered the modification of Airbus single aisle sharklets. This project involved the addition of new wingtips to the aircraft, significantly enhancing its efficiency. My role in the planning aspect of this project allowed me to leverage my experience in aeronautical engineering, contributing to a product that has a tangible impact on the world of aviation. The sense of pride I feel is immense, especially when I see these aircrafts, equipped with the sharklets we worked on, flying past my house. It's a daily reminder of our team's hard work and innovation. Moreover, this modification isn't just a personal accomplishment; it's something that millions of passengers worldwide will notice and benefit from when they look out of their aircraft windows. The success of this project underlines the importance of teamwork, innovation, and dedication in achieving ground breaking advancements in aviation technology.

In a recent development role with the Learning and Development team in Central Engineering, I am proud to have developed and implemented a strategic plan that resulted in substantial growth and savings for the company and various professional engineering institutions. This strategy not only met these significant organisational goals but also played a crucial role in guiding and supporting employees towards professional registration. The success of this initiative was further recognised through multiple award nominations, underscoring the effective combination of strategic development and a deep commitment to employee growth. This achievement stands as one of my proudest, reflecting both professional success and meaningful contributions to the development of others.

What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
The decision to pursue professional registration was significantly influenced by my former manager’s post-nominals stated after their name, which piqued my curiosity. After spending some time researching the requirements for professional registration, I discovered that my current employer supported this endeavour. Consequently, I applied and was successful in becoming an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) in early 2019. Since achieving my IEng status, I have carefully reviewed my gaps and development needs to further my professional growth. I have recently been working on my Chartered Engineer (CEng) application, which has been submitted for review.

In what ways has registration benefitted your career?
The main benefit for me has been the external validation of my competence, knowledge, and skills. In this fast-paced world and with the increase of career mobility, the ability to be able to quickly showcase these attributes has become indispensable to me. In addition, registration benefited my most recent further education application where I was able to demonstrate my commitment to continued professional development.

How does your employer benefit from your professional registration?
My employer benefits from registration in many ways. It gives assurance that engineers have met the requirements for the stringent assessment to become registered. The credibility from having professional registered engineers within the business also goes along way with securing new business. The commitment to continued professional development also means that engineers are always at the forefront in their area of expertise.

Is there any advice you would pass on to someone considering professional registration?
For individuals contemplating professional registration, it's highly beneficial to become a member of a professional engineering institution as membership offers a wealth of resources and networking opportunities with seasoned registered engineers who can provide invaluable guidance and support. Furthermore, it's crucial to familiarise yourself with the latest version of the UK-SPEC, as this document outlines the essential competencies required for various levels of professional registration. Understanding these competencies is key to preparing effectively for the level you aim to achieve. Lastly, don't delay this important step in your career development. Starting today sets you on a path towards achieving your professional goals and gaining recognition in your field.

Where do you see yourself in your career in five years’ time or what are your future ambitions?
My immediate goals linked to my ambitions are to complete my MSc in Intelligent Maintenance Engineering, gain CEng status and become a Fellow of a professional engineering institute. From here my career ambitions are firmly set on reaching senior leadership roles within the organisation. I am driven, not only by the desire to have a significant input at a strategic level, but also by the passion to nurture and develop the emerging talent within the business. I understand the vital role these individuals play in the future success of the company. My goal is to create an environment that fosters innovation and growth, where the next generation of professionals can excel.

Outside work, is there any activity you enjoy doing in your spare time that relates to engineering? For example, do you participate in mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
Outside of work, I actively contribute to the aviation community through my involvement with the Preston branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), where I serve on the committee and lead the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives. My role includes developing strategic approaches to ensure the branch effectively supports individuals. This commitment is reflected in a strategy paper I authored, focusing on the necessary steps for inclusive support. Previously, I was a part of the RAeS registration committee, assessing the qualifications of applicants for engineering titles such as EngTech, IEng, and CEng. Additionally, I played a significant role as a professional review interviewer. Beyond these responsibilities, I volunteered as a course representative at the University of Central Lancashire, advocating for student interests. My dedication to community support extends to working closely with Recruit for Spouses, an organisation where I volunteer my time to coach individuals, further exemplifying my commitment to helping others succeed in their professional and personal endeavours.