I've found my previous blog to be so useful, firstly in terms of encouraging me to do interesting things while away, secondly in helping me to digest all the experiences I've had, thirdly in communicating all of this to friends, family members, colleagues and anyone else back in the UK, and fourthly in the enjoyment I've had reading the blog in retrospect.
So what's different this time? Most noticeably, me. After 4 years of University Education I am now a very much more educated, driven, and successful older person in my field of Aerospace Engineering. I've cultivated a genuine interest in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, or 'planes that fly themselves' if you will), I have undertaken placements in the MoD and Rolls-Royce, I created and directed my final year project which saw me investigating new engine technologies for UAVs on behalf of Rolls-Royce and Cosworth, and best of all I have landed myself a graduate job at Rolls-Royce Defence Aerospace. So why aren't I there yet?
In spring of 2010 I was awarded an Engineering Leadership Advanced Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering. This significant sum of money is for personal and professional development - basically anything that might give the awardee an 'edge' in their early career. Most people use this for travel; I have participated in conferences across the UK and organised a trip to Washington D.C. to visit companies there and attend another conference. Furthermore I've participated in Parliamentary Group debates in the House of Lords, undertaken adventurous training on Dartmoor, and made the most of various other opportunities.
Applying to Rolls-Royce at the time I did meant that there were no spaces left to join Defence Aerospace in September 2012. I could join Civil or Marine this year, or defer my entry. This got me thinking about what I could do with 5 or 12 months, with my ELAA funding to assist and a guaranteed job offer at the end... So I began planning a mammoth trip around the planet, with the main objectives being visits to companies in the USA, China and Singapore and also to incorporate some volunteering where possible. I proposed this to Rolls-Royce: they accepted my plan and gave me a start date of 7th January 2013! Excellent news.
The plan has taken a lot of refining, but I now have confirmed numerous company and facility visits across Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore, and will also be visiting Shanghai, New Delhi, Kathmandu and Dubai. I will be spending a very large chunk of my time volunteering in Kathmandu - I am participating in a project run by IDF Nepal (through BUNAC in the UK) to help build schools and community centres in the Kathmandu area. I am especially looking forward to this opportunity since I have long since hoped to put my skills (practical and engineering) to good use and, to put it bluntly, my experience of other countries has only been of Western Europe and North America. Visiting somewhere completely different, where many of the population live on less than $2 per day, will be eye-opening for sure and I have no doubt will change my outlook on life itself.
Since finishing my degree in May, I have been planning this trip intensively and now have virtually everything lined up including flights, accommodation, visits and volunteering. I have also spent this period of time, the most free time I think I have ever had, thoroughly enjoying myself at sea (sailing and surfing), on land (theme parks, meals out and motorcycling) and in the air (gliding). Most importantly I have also graduated from the University of Bath, with a 1st Class MEng in Aerospace Engineering and a prize under my arm, but also said farewell to some close friends (for now anyway!) as we all make our separate ways into the world of work.
I'll be doing my best to keep this blog updated as often as internet access permits and will do my best to accompany each post with at least one photo! Therefore, without further ado, I present my schedule:
**Fly London Heathrow to Los Angeles (via Atlanta)
Mid Aug - Los Angeles, San Diego and South California (including Edwards AFB, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band). Industry visits.
**Fly Los Angeles to Seattle
Late Aug - Seattle area and Washington State. Industry visits.
**Fly Seattle to Beijing
Early Sep - Mandarin course at ISC Beijing, including industry visits. Hopefully visiting Shanghai with my friends Ann and Sudip!
**Fly Beijing to Hong Kong
Mid Sep - explore Hong Kong with my friend Sudip and his family.
**Fly Hong Kong to Singapore
Late Sep to early Oct - explore Singapore (including Grand Prix!) and South East Asia. Industry visits.
**Fly Singapore to New Delhi (via Madras)
Early Oct - explore Delhi and New Delhi
**Fly New Delhi to Kathmandu
Early Oct to early Dec - Volunteer with IDF Nepal: building and teaching in schools in the Kathmandu Area
Early Dec - explore further afield in Nepal, possibly including a Paragliding course
**Fly Kathmandu to Dubai
Mid Dec - explore Dubai and relax for a little while!
**Fly Dubai to London Gatwick