Shining the Spotlight - Eszter Szigeti

Shining the Spotlight - Eszter Szigeti

In this article, we Shine the Spotlight on Eszter Szigeti, an expert in advanced data capture and correlation at Airbus.

Tell us about your role…

Eszter 1I’m an expert in advanced data acquisition and correlation within our structural test department in AWIC (Airbus Wing Integration Centre). I specialise in advanced measurement techniques with objectives to deliver the most appropriate data to validate airframe structural integrity through smarter testing solutions. I lead several projects to provide a continuous digital data flow between virtual and physical tests. I also work on developments of novel data correlation methods to enable the creation of a hybrid test pyramid combining physical and virtual tests.

I am also involved in a number of research and technology (R&T) activities with strong links to structural health monitoring, non-destructive testing and experimental mechanics.

How did you get into the role?

I grew up in Hungary and spent a lot of time on transatlantic flights between Europe and America. I always had an interest in engineering and during those flights I slowly realised that I fell in love with planes, and decided that I wanted to work for an aircraft manufacturing company.

Growing up in a small town in Hungary my options to get into the aerospace sector were limited. Therefore, I strategically selected a BSc course which was generic and would offer a wide range of career options.  I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Miskolc where I specialized in materials processing. During my final year I looked for opportunities to study abroad, and I subsequently completed my MSc degree at Cranfield University on a course in advanced materials.

My final project was sponsored by Airbus and I was offered the opportunity to visit the Airbus site in Hamburg, which impressed me tremendously. At that point I decided that I would like to work for Airbus and later that year I applied for an Experimental Mechanics role in Filton. I started off on the Volunteers for International Experience (VIE) scheme in 2011 and about a year later I was taken on board permanently.

In the middle of 2017 I passed the validation phase and was nominated as an expert. I was the youngest female expert within Airbus at the time which has been an absolute privilege.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Everything! I am very passionate about what I do, my job is my hobby and as my mum always said “if you love your job then it isn’t a job”. I love coming into work every day. If you are passionate about something, you can really make a difference. 

I am involved in many different topics and get to do really interesting things; performing structural tests, researching new technologies, talking to start-up companies and universities with the goal to transform our future. I supervise PhD students, and I am topic managing some big EU projects and internal Airbus initiatives. It is very satisfying to be able to make a difference and to see my projects delivering added value towards a bright future.

Can you predict any trends for your field?

We have entered a new digital era which will significantly transform my field.

Digitalisation means the use and exploitation of end to end lifecycle product data in an entirely new way than before. Realising digitalisation in an industrial context will mean having to manage much larger data sets and volumes compared to today, which will also bring forth entirely new challenges to data management and data analytics. In recent times, creating a digital twin of a physical structure using virtual models combined with manufacturing, design, test and operational data, as well as other sources of information has become a realistic aspiration. The digital twin combined with end-of-life assessments will present a significant amount of information and knowledge about the aircraft’s lifecycle performance.  This knowledge has great potential value in the future design of our aircraft.

Furthermore, by being able to create a digital thread between all of our data, we will be able to do completely new things and create new ways of working. For example, the data captured during the life cycle of the structure will be processed by AI and machine learning which will enable the structure to “talk” to the operators and indicate when attention is required, in a similar manner to the human nervous system. This will significantly reduce the amount of time invested in inspections and enable condition-led inspections.

Overall we will be able to better optimise structures, our aircraft will be lighter, faster and more fuel efficient and we can consider alternative design routes. Right now, we are in the process of assessing some great digital opportunities. They are fast becoming reality rather than just an idea.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you were granted three items, what would those items be?

Definitely a photo of my son, and then it would depend if there was a plan in place to rescue me. If not, I would take a net to catch fish and a solar powered torch or a water purification system. However, if someone was going to pick me up in 10 days, I would ask for a big pile of books on air-crash investigation topics. This is an area which really interests me but I never have quite enough time to sit down and read technical books on this topic.

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