Marianne Morffew CEng MIET – Integrated Logistics Support Engineer, Boeing Defence UK, Ltd.
When I was in school I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Luckily, one of my mum’s friends, who was a school careers advisor, asked me what I wanted out of a job. I wanted variety, I didn’t mind working inside or outside, and I didn’t mind working with my hands, so when she suggested engineering to me it came as a surprise as it hadn’t even crossed my mind as something that I would want to do as a job. Nevertheless, I found myself at the Royal Navy Aircraft Yard in Gosport, where I had the opportunity to walk through the hangars. When I observed all of these helicopters in different states of build and repair, I knew that I wanted to be an engineer.
And it was that unique experience that laid the foundation for my future career.
I started off as an apprentice in 1979 with the Civil Service. In a class of 56, there were four girls and by the end, I was the only one left. After completing my four year apprenticeship I was employed as a fitter, working on a variety of helicopters, for the next five years, followed by two in the flight test department. Whilst there I got to do underwater escape training at Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton which allowed me to fly over water. Pretty cool! After that I became a Technical Supervisor for a group of ex-servicemen working on aircraft modification programmes. At first, they weren’t certain about having a woman in charge, but I quickly gained their respect when they saw that I had actually done the work myself. At that time, women in engineering was still a novelty, so I had to prove myself a lot – especially being in a male-dominated field.
After 18 years there, I went to the Army Aircraft Branch at Army Air Corps Middle Wallop where I was a Service Modification Desk Officer. For two years I helped solve problems for our customers by designing, testing and implementing equipment that would allow the aircraft to go and complete a special mission. This was my first introduction to project management – and I didn’t even really realize it at the time. During this part of my career, I got to do a few things that I never would have expected to do in my life – like going into theatre to help fit a piece of equipment onto an aircraft. It was in this role that I, for the first time, was treated and credited as an engineer
In 1999, I came to Somerset to help bring the Apache helicopter into service, where for the next six years, I was an Engineering Authority for the avionics on the aircraft. After that, I spent time working on the Wildcat programme, as an Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) manager. In 2007, I left the Civil Service, but three months later I was back working for the Ministry of Defence on the Merlin programme. What started off as a three-month contract ended up being four and a half years. I then found myself in a series of other roles working again on the Wildcat and then again on the Apache. So it all came full circle.
In 2016 I gained professional registration and became a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and I am a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). The IET featured me in their magazine to encourage others in that you don’t have to be degree qualified to become a Chartered Engineer. Being awarded my CEng is one of my proudest moments in my career.
I started with Boeing in October 2017 and I am now an ILS engineer working on the Apache AH-64E. It’s a long way from working hands-on in an aircraft hangar but I still get the same buzz from doing something rewarding and I believe Boeing will help me to further progress my engineering career with many exciting opportunities still to come.
Over the years I have enjoyed taking on new challenges and opportunities, but what makes it truly great is that I’ve created not just a job, but a career. At the end of the day, I believe that you have to do something that you enjoy as there is no point going up a career chain just for money. You have to have passion for what you do – that’s what makes the difference so my final bit of advice would be to pick a field of engineering that interests you as it’s really important that you enjoy your work.
Opportunities in Engineering
There are so many opportunities in engineering that can take you from a hands-on role, like being a fitter, all the way through upper management. And while some may strive to continuously move up the chain, we also need a steady stream of individuals who are interested in sticking to that hands-on-type work because both of the roles are equally as important to the success of a company. So if you’re interested, like I was, in engineering I would recommend an apprenticeship. It’s a great place to start and can help get you started on your path to becoming an engineer.