A Day in the Life of a Bell Engineer

Steve Dyer, VP of Engineering, presenting to the students

On January 18th, 2018, Bell and AHS hosted an event for engineering students from local universities called “A Day in the Life of a Bell Engineer” at the Mirabel facility. The students viewed presentations by Steve Dyer, VP of Engineering, Cynthia Garneau, President, Maxime Lapalme from the Innovation team, Norvan Gharabegi from Material & Processes and Nicola Pedneault from Flight Tests.

Steve Dyer and Cynthia Garneau highlighted some advantages of working at Bell in Mirabel: the flexibility of experiencing not only design and analysis as is the norm for engineers, but being able to get up close to hands-on testing and production. Steve emphasized that Bell strives to provide a level of responsibility and freedom that is more common in smaller companies, yet on projects that only a large company could accomplish. He said that it is not hard to have passion for your job when seeing the effect that the products have on people’s lives, showing the example of a CareFlite lifesaving helicopter flight video.

Maxime Lapalme gave an overview of the loads and stress processes for airframe design, then he talked about the stress analysis and tests of the 505 helicopter and how student interns typically get involved. He emphasized that students receive support but also have a lot of independence in taking on projects similar to the ones that full-time employees tackle. The example he gave was a finite element model of the 505 vertical fin mount. A video showing a 505 airframe being flexed repeatedly in its fatigue test demonstrated the hands-on nature that his job can take while validating finite element analyses for certification of helicopters that get built and flown out of the Mirabel facility.

Maxime Lapalme (Airframe Structure in the Innovation Team) presenting typical work in his field of expertise.

Norvan Gharabegi described his hands-on job taking care of carbon fiber composite part inspections, supporting design work and performing destructive tests on parts. His most memorable project to date involved a redesign of hot air ducting for Bell 429 search and rescue helicopters. It was most memorable for him to see it in action in the Red Bull TV series “The Horn” which follows medics, doctors and pilots as they save lives in difficult winter conditions.

Norvan Gharabegi talking about the Material & Processes group.

Nicola Pedneault described his job supporting flight tests as an electrical engineer that sometimes takes him up the telemetry towers to repair and install antennas, some other times to the highest altitude airport in North America at Leadville, Colorado to take measurements from a pickup truck driving directly underneath a 412 flying sideways at high speeds. Most of the time his job consists in designing and maintaining data acquisition hardware package.

Nicola Pedneault talking about his best experiences within the Flight Test team.

After the presentations, students had the opportunity to take a tour of the assembly lines of the 407, 429, 412 and 505 helicopters, the flight completion center hangar, and several labs and manufacturing areas where Bell completes assembly of helicopters and produces high-tech composite parts. They also had the opportunity to see the FCX-001 concept helicopter and the Hybrid Drive Train Research Aircraft (HYDRA) in person. Afterwards, students were able to talk with engineers over an informal lunch.

Students: look for more events like this by joining your local AHS chapter and be on the lookout for Bell internships through your school’s division of the Montreal Aerospace Institute (MAI)!