Friday, 12 September 2014

Aston Martin Engineers Come to Town

Written by Eliana Mucolo and Tyler Orton (12 years old Whitley Academy student reporters)
Friday 12th September 2014
Outside it was sunny, warm with some light wind, ideal for outdoors events.
The black Aston Martin car arrived with two visitors Bal Choda (Engineer) and Dan Greenwood (Purchasing).
The car was parked right outside the school reception area.
A number of students and teachers saw the car as soon as it arrived. All wanted to have a look inside this beautiful car. No one was allowed for obvious reasons of course!
Inside the Auditorium 180 students of years 9 and 10 were waiting patiently. There were a couple of six form students amongst the audience. They were allowed to be off lessons periods 5 and 6 to attend this exciting event. Mrs Nguyen planned for this event back in July this year.
As soon as they got into the Auditorium, Bal set his presentation up and started his speech. He focused on what STEM was about (which meant Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Bal then told us briefly about the history of Aston Martin. It was amazing to find out that the company was set up by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford in 1913 and the company celebrated their centenary last year.
Bal also explained about how he came to work at Aston Martin.
He shared with us that he enjoyed his work like a hobby and emphasised the point about young people studying towards a career of choice, therefore enjoying the jobs they finally end up in.
Bal also stated how nice the offices were in Gaydon. He also mentioned that he worked with some very clever and talented people who all work very hard, but also enjoyed what they do, making this a fun job to be in. In his own words Bal said ‘It’s like a hobby to work in engineering and the bonus at the end of the month is that you get paid!’ How amazing!
Then we came to realise another interesting fact to work at Aston Martin that staff worked only four and a half days a week! Their weekend started at Friday lunch time! He also mentioned that they often see famous people walking around the factory, which also makes the job interesting.
To talk more about engineering Bal mentioned about safety, quality and performance as the key factors in his team’s engineering focus. We then learnt that a lot of new car models started their life in the form of a clay model and it normally took around 7 cowhides to make the interior of an Aston Martin car. Wow!
Some other very interesting facts that we learnt include engineers account for nearly 60% of all UK exports and engineering exists in many jobs around us. Young people need to consider engineering jobs now to fill many vacancies that will be available in future years.
During his talk Bal asked us questions about various facts in the presentation. We had the opportunity to win merchandise prizes from Aston Martin. The prizes to be won were things such posters and books and brochures. They were collectable items for fans of Aston Martin cars. Four prizes were won by various year nine boys. Well-done to them all!
After Bal’s talk Dan came to the front and shared his stories.
Dan is part of the new graduate intake and had been at the company for just over a year. He came from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. He was very honest to share the story that he did not do very well in school with only 3 GCSEs and 3 A levels, but had to work harder to end up working for Aston Martin. It was fascinating to know that he started working in Sainsbury’s as a shelf-stacker and then moved on to be a team leader. Nowadays his job role is an Aston Martin Interior Trim Graduate Buyer. Dan told us to keep our career options open. He also gave us other practical advice for life including applying for an apprenticeship or work experience as soon as we could.
Bal added another key message that however we do in life, we can all make mistakes, but it is important that we learn from them and move on to do better things…how true!
Bal then showed us the slideshow of an Aston Martin car transponder (which was completely new word to many of us!). It was a watch used as an Aston Martin key for some models only. It was the world’s most precious car key produced by a 175-years-old Swiss watch company!
A lot of interesting facts for us to know including Prince Charles’ passion in owning an Aston Martin and Prince William’s use of his dad’s DB6 Aston Car (with a red L sign at the back of the car) when he drove it out of Buckingham Palace on his wedding day! How great!
After the talk, we all went outside to see an Aston Martin DB9 that Bal and Dan used to drive to our school today. It costs £145 k for the car! Unfortunately we were not allowed to go in it or touch it. However Bal turned on the car and he revved the engine. He also put the top down (it was a soft-top/convertible car). Both doors and the boot were open so that we could see the inside.
After viewing the car and most students left school for home, Divya, Tyler H. and Tyler O. interviewed Dan and Bal for some more thought before the end of the day. Bal told us that at the age of 7 he had a passion for sports cars and told his parents he would one day work for a car company when he grew older. And he did. When he was at his secondary school he realised the importance of STEM subjects. He worked very hard to get a job in engineering.
There was an ‘embarrassing’ moment Tyler H. asked them if they had a crush for a girl when they were in secondary schools. Then we realised that Bal and Dan paid more attention to their studies than the distraction from people of their opposite sex. Bal also reflected that if he could rewind the clock he would have tried to work even harder in school instead of spending time to hang around with his mates and playing football (on hearing this we got to think a bit more carefully about the way we are spending time at the moment).

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