As an expert for engineering and manufacturing services, technology consulting and HR services, ARTS currently employs 500 interesting personalities. They contribute their expert knowledge in various areas. In our interview series, we want to know how the individual employees have found their way to ARTS, what makes their work special and what inspires and challenges them in their daily work.
As project manager for development projects, Kai Uhlig has been working for our customer Diehl Aviation Gilching GmbH in Dresden since February 2018. His career until then was varied. In an interview, he reveals why he was particularly fascinated by aviation.
What did you do before ARTS?
Aviation has always fascinated me. It all started in the early 90s when I and my father regularly picked up my mother at the airport for a while. At that time you had the opportunity to watch airplanes from a visitor platform and smell the smell of burned kerosene. So my dream developed to sit in a cockpit in front of a plane. At that time, however, you had to finance your training as a commercial pilot yourself, so later I didn't end up in the cockpit of a scheduled flight, but found my place with a very innovative company in the field of renewable energies, Bayer Solar GmbH. I completed my apprenticeship as a process mechanic in the metallurgical and semi-finished products industries early as the best apprentice in the training occupation and then decided on a dual course of study at the Berufsakademie in Bautzen in the field of industrial engineering. Even after graduating, I remained true to my practical work, developed from a production employee to a divisional manager of a production section, and became increasingly involved in the continuous improvement of production processes and cost-cutting projects. At that time, the solar industry flourished and I grew and developed with the company. In 2017 the later Solarworld had to file for insolvency and after 19 years in the solar industry in Freiberg I moved to aviation in Dresden.
How did the move from Freiberg to Dresden come about?
At that time a job fair took place in Freiberg. Companies from the aerospace industry also presented themselves there. But unfortunately the companies didn't see a chance for me to gain a foothold in aviation without knowledge of the industry. I then became aware of ARTS via the Internet, applied and came to my current job at Diehl Aviation Gilching GmbH in Dresden. I would never have dreamed that I would be hired as part of the temporary employment agency. But without ARTS I would not have been able to get started without knowledge of the industry. Since then I have been commuting daily from Freiberg to Dresden.
How do you rate the application process via ARTS and the contact to the ARTS colleagues?
The application process and the entire communication with ARTS went smoothly. I always have a very positive impression of my colleagues when I'm in the ARTS office. At ARTS, the human component is at the forefront. I never had the impression of being just any number. Even without any previous knowledge of the aviation industry, I was hired by ARTS and have since been working successfully as a project manager for development projects at Diehl. And I also feel very comfortable at Diehl. I was very well received and integrated into the team.
Diehl Aviation Gilching GmbH mainly develops equipment for aircraft on behalf of large OEMs such as Airbus, Boeing, Gulfstream and Embraer. The development mainly concerns devices in the field of kitchen equipment and waste water and fresh water systems. At the customer Diehl further ARTS employees are deployed throughout Europe.
Did you have to overcome many difficulties in the beginning?
In the beginning, I had to master a few challenges as a lateral entrant. For example, it was incomprehensible to me how you could develop small things for three years. Even the smallest design adjustments have to be tested many times. I quickly learned how many guidelines have to be observed in aviation. The numerous certifications and tests, however, justify the long development time. Reliability and safety are the top priorities in aviation and in our development projects.
And what exactly are your tasks at Diehl?
As a project manager, I have both a responsible and an exciting and varied job. I am currently working with my teams on four development projects in the Airbus A350 program and another project for the new Boeing 777x. On average, the team size consists of 5 to 6 specialists from different areas of our development department. The goals in the various projects are very similar. In addition to meeting our time and cost targets, we also strive to provide our customers with innovative and mature products that contribute to even more efficient aircraft. The goals are to reduce the costs and weight of the fresh and waste water tanks. Cost reduction projects were also an important part of my work in the solar industry and therefore no unknown terrain for me. Further tasks are, of course, project, time and budget planning. The aim of my work is to reach the milestones with my project team.
In the meantime, Kai took over a project that was a completely new development and already relatively far advanced. It was about lightweight toilets to reduce the overall weight of the aircraft.
The temporary management of this project was a big challenge for me as a "newcomer", because it was a complete new development and a very extensive project, which I took over in the middle as a representative. But here, too, I have grown with my tasks and was able to gain a lot of experience in the implementation of development projects in aviation in a very short time. Even today, after almost a year in the aviation industry, I am broadening my horizons every day, gaining new experience and constantly learning new things.
Have you ever regretted the change of industry?
No. I'm glad that I made it into the company, because I learned a lot from my work, was able to grow beyond myself and, to be honest, after the insolvency of my last employer, I would not have dreamed of working with Airbus or Boeing today. This makes me proud and shows me that I have chosen the right path, even though it was initially a greater challenge than I had imagined. But there is still something magical about aviation for me that I would like to continue to be a part of.
Could you imagine being involved in other ARTS-owned projects?
In any case, I can imagine that. I'm always available for interesting projects.
ARTS not only offers a variety of jobs in aviation, but also in numerous other industries worldwide. On our website you can apply for technical, commercial and engineering jobs in mechanical engineering, automotive and automation technology. Or you can ask our colleagues in HR for advice on development opportunities at ARTS.