What does it do?

Smiths Aerospace doesn't make aeroplanes, but there would be a lot fewer aircraft in the sky if the company didn't exist, as it makes and supplies many of the components central to a plane's performance. The list of products is endless, and dizzyingly technical to the lay reader. Among the more familiar elements, though, are propellers, landing gear, fuel systems and numerous clever bits and pieces that make the engine work. Its customer list reads like a Who's Who of aviation - civilian and military - and includes Boeing, Airbus, Eurofighter and Sikorsky helicopters. The firm also produces components for tanks, and security systems to help combat terrorism. Founded in 1851 by a London clock maker, Samuel Smith, the firm's first move into transport began with cars, producing the first British speedometer in 1904, and moved into aircraft in the First World War. Acquisitions and mergers, from the 1980s onwards, turned this company into a major transatlantic business, with a growing presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Vital statistics

Global annual sales exceed £1bn, generated by 11,000 employees, split almost evenly between the USA and the UK.

The office

The UK headquarters are in London, but manufacturing takes place in nine locations, including Southampton, Cheltenham and Burnley.

Is this you?

Up to 30 graduates are taken on every year, in design, engineering, commerce, IT and human resources. A 2:1 in a relevant engineering or business subject is required.

The recruitment process

Online applications, via www.smithsgraduates.com, offer the chance to show evidence of achievements and the potential to work in a technical sector that is undergoing continual restructuring. Online psychometric assessments narrow the field further. The assessment centre stage includes interviews and a presentation. Recruits undergo formal training for two years, although continuing professional development is encouraged throughout their careers. Training includes workshops on business skills and business awareness, work placements, and site visits to different manufacturing and design locations. All this alongside real work and real responsibilities, with opportunities to work on both sides of the Atlantic.

Top dollar?

Graduates start on roughly £22,000 a year, plus a £2,000 welcome bonus and a string of extras, including company pension plan and five weeks' holiday.

Beam me up Scotty?

The company says progress can be rapid, even within the training period. For example, a recent graduate was working on a live project in Seattle with Boeing within the first 12 months of joining.

Who's the boss?

The executive director, Dr John Ferrie, an engineer by profession, arrived at Smiths in 2000 after 35 years with Rolls-Royce. He has a private pilot's licence and enjoys hillwalking.

Little known fact

You've heard of autopilot, but did you know the days of no-pilot had arrived? Smiths supplies components to several flying saucer-type UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles to you and me.