• Question: is maths a big part of your job

    Asked by igotangryand to Andy, Bill, Grant, Kayleigh, Rain on 13 Mar 2012. This question was also asked by onedirection09.
    • Photo: Andrew Hearn

      Andrew Hearn answered on 12 Mar 2012:

      Yeah a lot of maths(!), and the funny thing is that I never liked maths until I started my HND (call me crazy for sticking with it!) – but now it is nothing like school maths lessons! It is maths far better than that – hard to imagine I know! (Computers do most of the work for us anyway!)

      It is like being given secrets to do tasks far quicker than doing it any other way. Also seeing machines move in curves, stop or change direction perfectly where it is supposed to be doing is fantastic because of all the boring maths I had to do all them years at school (if my old maths teachers happen to read this, please accept my apologies for saying that maths is totally pointless!)

      Also I’ve created fake, virtual, aircraft and stuff to test radars, the radars think that they’re real because of the way they move and change direction how real aircraft are supposed to. It is fun seeing stuff come up on radar screens that look real but I know are just weird numbers created by ‘maths’!

    • Photo: Grant Cairnie

      Grant Cairnie answered on 12 Mar 2012:

      Sometimes yes sometimes no. I still use a lot of the maths learnt at School and University but its applied in different ways. Most of my time is spent testing and developing once the maths has been finished.

    • Photo: Rain Irshad

      Rain Irshad answered on 13 Mar 2012:

      It can be an awfully big part – we have to calculate things like the amount of force on the instruments we build, especially on launch because they have to be able to survive the shock! We have to work out how cold equipment is likely to get on other planets and make sure it will still work. Nowadays there are a lot of computer programs to help with this kind of thing, but sometimes there aren’t and we have to write our own programs.

      There are a fair few bits of maths that I learnt at school and don’t use now, but looking back I can see that it was all useful training. I was really lucky and had brilliant maths teachers. It might not always have been fun but they made sure that we could understand even the harder stuff, and that made a big difference.

    • Photo: Kayleigh Messer

      Kayleigh Messer answered on 13 Mar 2012:

      It is part of the job but it is more interesting than at school because there is a clear reason for using it, and it is used in context. Plus programs like Microsoft Excel do the hard work 😉

    • Photo: Bill Price

      Bill Price answered on 22 Mar 2012:

      Yes at one time it was but a lot is now done using software. Of course most engineers will ‘run some numbers’ to do a quick check but eventually final design might be on a computer system. Sometimes our engineers creat their own spredsheeds and sub-routines to help them do repetitive tasks efficiently. We alaways check ‘home made’ things like this.