Aerospace Engineering graduate sets flightplan to success

Swansea University Aerospace Engineering student Bethan Kenward, originally from Reading, is getting ready to spread her career wings as she graduates with a postgraduate degree – MEng in Engineering – today (Thursday, July 22).

Bethan, aged 23, who dreams of becoming a commercial pilot, is part of the 10-strong team from the University’s School of Engineering, which recently entered and was awarded the runner-up prize in the annual Merlin Flight Simulation Group Aircraft Design and Handling Competition.

The team was also awarded the winning prize for Best New Aircraft Design, which carried free flying lessons for the winners.

Speaking about how her interest in Aerospace Engineering was fired, Bethan said: “My mother convinced me to do an Insight course where I could try different types of engineering as I could not decide what I wanted to study after attending Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common, Reading and then Henley College in Henley, Oxfordshire.

“I went to Airbus for the day and got the change to look around the factories, seeing the landing gear being tested and learning what building an aircraft involved and I was instantly hooked on studying Aerospace Engineering.”

Bethan, whose mother Lyn Kenward is from Cardiff, then decided to apply for the course at Swansea.

She said: “I loved the beachfront location at Swansea and the Department of Aerospace Engineering was new and very interesting. I am very privileged to be part of a great team with access to some of the most sophisticated aerospace equipment in the UK.

“The flying lessons could not be more welcome and once I’ve got enough money saved, I am definitely going for my commercial pilot’s licence.”

Bethan graduates alongside six fellow Aerospace Engineering students and Merlin Flight Simulation Group Aircraft Design and Handling Competition team members Andrew Girling from Reading, Ramasy Ilyat from Southampton, Spencer Jeffs from Plymouth, Christopher Pretty from Lichfield, Claire Barker from Cardiff, and Rajiv Banik from Birmingham.

Dr Hans Sienz, Programme Director for Aerospace Engineering at Swansea University said: “To continue achieving top honours in a competition of this magnitude within less than a decade of setting up Wales’ only professionally accredited Aerospace Engineering degree scheme currently is outstanding.

“It demonstrates the commitment of the University to the strategic importance of aerospace, the quality of the education for the students, the quality of students the course attracts and hard work the School of Engineering has put into development of the degree scheme.

“The students graduating this year have shown their quality and commitment again and again and I am delighted to congratulate them on their well-deserved success.”

Swansea University recently invested in a £250,000 state-of-the-art single-seat flight simulator facility housed in the School of Engineering and is one of only a few simulators available in any UK university.

It is believed to be the most advanced programmable of its kind currently, with a 3D vision helmet, helicopter simulation, and flight navigation database and Bethan is looking to make use of it again later this year, when she returns to Swansea in October to study for her PhD.

For more information about Swansea University Graduation Week visit