voestalpine BÖHLER Aerospace is a leading aerospace supplier. In order to meet the stringent safety standards, the highly stress-resistant aerospace components have to undergo strict quality control tests. That is why in Kapfenberg, no component passes by Stefanie S. without passing a hardness test.
When you meet the young materials technician, you would not initially guess that she has already been working in her field for eleven years. But when you hear Stefanie talk about her job, there is no doubt that she is a true expert in her field. She joined the voestalpine BÖHLER Aerospace team in 2011 and subjects safety-critical components for engines, wings, and landing gear to the ultimate hardness test.
Tried and tested
Stefanie’s workday usually begins with a series of important questions. “Are the components I need to test here? Do I have all the run cards I need? Have I had my vital first cup of coffee?” The 26-year-old rattles through the questions with a twinkle in her eye. But she does not blink an eye when it comes to quality testing. Documenting the production process and complete traceability is the name of the game in aerospace. That is why an important step during Stefanie’s work is checking the run card where each process step for the component is recorded. The hardest and most important step is the Rockwell hardness test. The material hardness of a component is determined by penetrating a diamond cone. This verifies the quality of the heat treatment after forging. All measured values must be within the narrow tolerances in order for the component to proceed to the next production step.
Due to the high safety standards in aerospace, quality testing is a particularly sensitive process. That is why employees in testing need additional, comprehensive, globally standardized training. As did Stefanie: “In order to be allowed to perform component tests, I had to pass an exam that meets aerospace standards. All testers are requalified in-house every five years, and after ten years I again have to pass an exam that meets aerospace standards,” she explains. The materials technician really enjoys working with the computer. She programs the test procedures for each component, for instance the immersion technology for ultrasonic testing.
Choosing the right career
When she was younger, Stefanie did a practical internship and thought about becoming a hairdresser, but she quickly realized that her true passion was technology. Her father and uncle, both teachers in technical fields, completely convinced her that becoming a materials technician at voestalpine BÖHLER Aerospace was the right career path. “I really like my job. Most of my colleagues have also been with the company for many years and we work well together as a team. When I tell friends that “my” components fly in airplanes, they are usually really impressed,” says Stefanie. She also saddles up in her private life, because she finds her work/life balance with her two horses. The passionate Western rider spends almost all of her free time at the stables, where she remains true to her passion for tests. She is planning to start a course in equine energetics and will certainly pass one or the other test during her training.