Job Series #2 Rocket Electronic Test Technician at MBDA
Technician in electronics, Vincent Jager tests, measures and validates all subsets of a rocket just before the final integration. A crucial role, which unfortunately isn’t known enough by young graduates.
It is necessary to show clean hands to meet Vincent Jager at his work place. The French MBDA rocket integration plant is a highly secured place, invisible from the road and buried under the pines and oaks of the immense forest of Sologne. The accreditation is long to get, but the Air and Cosmos business card makes things easier.
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Vincent Jager, 35, is in charge of test benches, in the direct vicinity of assembly cells in Atex zone, at risk of explosion. Armored doors and thick walls remind us that this is not an empty word.
« This technician’s job is unknown but crucial because it validates the proper functioning of all subsets just before the final presentation to customers. This step makes us sure that everything works « , summarizes Benoit Hiault, director of the Selles-Saint-Denis plant, near Romorantin, where the rocket assembles medium and long range ammunition, Mica, Exocet, Scalp … destined to nearly 90 armies in the world.
Responsibility is not thin : « a rocket is not an industrial product like any other, it will only be implemented once, » said Benoit Hiault. There is no right for error throughout the production process, specially when the date of delivery is approaching. Unlike automobile or appliances, the manufacturer does not recall. A rocket is a bit like a match, we know it is consistent once we have used it.
There is a silent and a calm atmosphere in the workshops, the colleagues of Vincent Jager are discreet, the exchanges are measured. In the aisles, everything is clean and tidy. Time seems suspended in this factory of 280 employees who turns in 2×8 to meet the orders that grow. Despite the pressure from customers waiting for their ammunition, « the atmosphere remains conducive to a calm and thoughtful decision-making ». « Precipitation is an enemy « , remarks Benoit Hiault.
Vincent Jager discovered this profession almost by chance. Employee of a subcontractor of MBDA, Auxitrol-Esterline in Bourges, he had first applied in a classic way, responding to an announcement for the Bourges-Subdray plant dedicated to electronic components. « I did not even suspect the existence of the Selles-Saint-Denis factory, » he wonders today. After several attempts, this technician trained in electronics at a school in Marne-la-Vallée, and sent a handwritten letter. « It was my wife who pushed me to do it, she was right, » he laughs. A letter that hit the mark, since he was recruited and then referred to this particular position.
Since graduating from the Higher School of Electronics Technicians (ESTE), which he integrated after having tried a preparatory class, Vincent Jager has always worked in electronics labs. « Over time, I became a specialist in clean room measurements. But it cut me ground, production, and when I looked for a new job in 2009, I found nothing out of hand, especially since these jobs are mostly in Paris. I even considered CAD training, » he says.
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The work of electronic technician in the laboratory was certainly prestigious, but it had another disadvantage for this technician eager for a concrete mission : « we rarely see the outcome of a project, since we are working on a technological brick that will integrate a larger whole », he says.
Today, Vincent Jager provides the interface between design offices and assembly workshops, where operators intervene only in very limited numbers, but also all those who still intervene at this stage of production, especially for the development of benches and test programs, covered in sensors. « We are constantly discovering new advanced technologies, it’s exciting, » he says.
Even if it is not the test manager who assembles, he remains in direct contact with the finished product : and not just any random rocket, a rocket that will be mounted on a Rafale or a frigate.
Vincent Jager, who had given up on engineering schools as a student, feels good in his life as a senior technician. For now, he does not see himself attend the evening classes of MBDA’s engineering program. « This job gives me more time to spend with my family and more freetime as a whole, » says this amateur guitarist, who assumes his job « minion » for Parnell, an independent rocker. Advertising, website, concerts, rehearsals : Vincent Jager intends to apply the MBDA method : patience, precision, and responsibility.
QUICK BIOGRAPHY :
Age: 35 years old
2009 : Tired of public transport, returns to Bourges, 7 months of unemployment. Integrates MBDA through a handwritten letter
2004 : Signs a permanent contract at Auxitrol where he developed a pressure sensor at the end of his studies internship
2002: Entered preparatory class then forks to a professional license at the School of Technicians in Electronics (ESTE) of Marne-la-Vallée
2000 : Bachelor’s degree in science at Marx Dormoy high school in Champigny / Marne.