Share this Job

Principal Research Engineer - Assembly Automation

Date: May 13, 2022

Location: Bristol, ENG, GB

Company: GKN Aerospace Careers

A Truly Global Business 
Every day, around the world, we help aircraft fly further, faster and greener.  We’re the world’s leading tier one aerospace supplier of systems and components. With over 15,000 employees across 41 manufacturing sites in 13 countries serving over 90% of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers with sales of £2.8bn. Together as “One GKN” we’re moving our business and industry forward developing technologies that rapidly decarbonise aircraft, and innovating to help build a new generation of planes that produce zero emissions.  We’re putting sustainability at the heart of what we do; driving our objective to becoming a net zero greenhouse gas emissions business before 2050! 

Making a Difference 
It’s great to know you’re making a difference to the future of aviation! Whatever part you play you’ll be helping us deliver operational excellence to our customers.

The Opportunity

We are seeking a new Principal Research Engineer with a background in Assembly Automation, to be based at our world leading, state-of-the-art technology research and development facility in Bristol - the Global Technology Centre (GTC). On site we conduct research, manufacturing process development and carry out high rate representative manufacture (TRL 6+) to develop sustainable aerospace technology of the future. We are an ecosystem of Universities, Research and Technology Organisations, Catapults, Government Organisations and Industrial Partners. In this role, you will work as part of a transnational team supporting a variety of technology activities, but with particular responsibility for specifying, developing and deploying automated systems for assembly operations. Drawing on your experience and awareness of state-of-art automation, you will progress a variety of research and development activity in the TRL1-6 range. The PRE will often be required to work with and steer specialised suppliers to develop sub-systems to GKN specification, whilst also leading an internal team of technologists. 

How You'll Contribute

Working closely with other disciplines such as manufacturing and product design engineers in order to ensure automated systems meet all requirements and deliver the targeted return on investment, you'll achieve through others internally and externally, and will be committed to development of your skills and professional network. You will:

  • lead a team of technologists to deliver technology to meet requirements within time and budget constraints
  • develop understanding of the strategic direction of assembly operations and the approach required in respect to product and process technologies  
  • build strong relationships with academia, suppliers and catapult centers, clearly articulating requirements to external collaborators 
  • identify state of the art assembly technologies to align with our business strategy
  • develop solutions from conception to reality

You may also get involved in:

  • programming and simulating assembly and manufacturing methods and hardware
  • understanding product design trends and drivers in order to understand the limitations and opportunities presented by improved and increased levels of automation  
  • working closely with operations to use technology to reduce or eliminate historic non-conformance issues
  • recognizing and conceiving opportunities for technology introduction and process improvement
  • supporting project stakeholder management with internal/external customers, and may lead management of supply chain partners

What You'll Bring

To help us make a difference, you’ll bring your passion and expertise/ talent for what you do along with the following skills, experience, qualifications and attributes:

  • A relevant, accredited engineering degree or experience of demonstrable equivalence.
  • experience of managing a team of people and a project with budget responsibility
  • fundamental understanding of typical automated systems; including kinematics and control; fundamental understanding of CNC programming and control
  • fundamental understanding of metrology; including large volume metrology and measurement uncertainty
  • fundamental understanding of design requirements and how they are specified; especially including geometry, dimensions and tolerances (GD&T)
  • fundamental understanding of programming, ideally with direct experience in at least one of the following: Matlab, C# or Python
  • strong self-starter, competent to work with general goal-based direction as well as more specific task-based requirements
  • appetite for growing a network in Aerospace or Technology areas relevant to the role, and is able to identify and engage in the development of collaboration opportunities
  • has good interpersonal and communication skills, and can translate to a variety of audiences. Is confident and able to represent their project(s) and GKN values in internal/external review meetings. 


  •      Deep understanding of aerospace assembly and manufacturing processes
  •      Experience of using a CAD package, ideally CATIA
  •      Has experience engaging with production teams, can identify operational requirements and incorporate in the project(s) as appropriate.
  •      Keen interest and capability in data analytics
  •      Practical experience of large volume metrology instruments; robot, CNC or PLC programming experience
  •      Chartered Engineer with a relevant institution

What We'll Offer

Once you’re on board you’ll get the following perks and benefits:
•    Hybrid working – giving you the opportunity to balance home and office working
•    Industry Leading Pension Scheme = we’ll match your contributions up to 8% on a 1 : 1.5 basis
•    Life Assurance 8 x salary
•    25 days' holiday + bank holidays
•    Income protection
•    Shopping discounts
•    Cycle To Work Scheme
•    Employee Assistance Programme
•    A collaborative, dynamic working environment 
•    Opportunity to earn up to 15% bonus 

As well as a competitive package we’ll offer you a world of opportunity. We want to see your career fly!  We’ll support your career progression by providing you with learning and development opportunities.  That’s the beauty of being part of a global business, once you’re on board you never know where you career journey may take you! 

A Great Place to work needs a Great Way of Working
Everyone is welcome to apply to GKN.  Through our commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging and by living our five powerful principles we’ve created a culture where everyone feels welcome to contribute.  It’s a culture that won us ‘The Best Workplace Culture Award’ last year.  By embracing and celebrating what makes us unique we encourage everyone to bring their full self to work.

We’re also committed to providing an accessible recruitment process, so if you require reasonable adjustments at any stage during our recruitment process please get in touch and let us know.

5 Principles