Aberdeen engineer scoops podium place in major skills competition

Aberdeen engineer scoops podium place in major skills competition

Congratulations to Bristow Engineer Kinga Gorzelanczyk who picked up the bronze medal in a major UK-wide aviation maintenance skills competition!

“Never stop asking questions!” said Aberdeen-based Gorzelanczyk who credits the Bristow Engineering Apprenticeship programme for giving her the skills and attitude to beat thousands of hopefuls in the 2023 Workskills UK competition.

The prestigious annual event, which aims to find the UK's best Aviation Maintenance apprentice, is open to current and newly-graduated apprentices and attracts thousands of entries.

And Gorzelanczyk, who completed the Bristow Engineering Apprenticeship scheme last December, became the first Bristow employee to take part when she entered the competition last year.

Hands-on challenges

The major event started with an on-line test which saw the apprentices quizzed on several basic elements of engineering and safety. This whittled the field down to 50 hopefuls - including Gorzelanczyk - who were then invited to a day of hands-on challenges.

“For the second phase we each had to complete three tests in front of a panel of judges. These included a wheel change, an inspection of an actuator and some sheet metal work,” she said.

“The wheel and actuator were simple enough, I had done that many times as part of my Bristow training. But I don't have much experience with sheet metal. We knew only eight people would go through to the grand final, so the standards were high and competition was fierce."

Despite her lack of experience with sheet metal Gorzelanczyk scored highly across the board, but when the results came in, it was bad news - at least that's what she thought at first…


“When we heard the results I was gutted - I had just missed out on the top eight! I thought that was the end, but it turned out I was still in with a chance because my scores were high enough to make me the first reserve for the final!”

And sure enough, when the Grand Final came around a few months later, a space appeared and Gorzelanczyk was selected - albeit as a rank outsider.

The sheet metal test instructions

“It was great moment to learn that, even after my disappointing result, I had made it into the final. But I only had one week to prepare!”

The final itself spanned three full days of challenges, ranging from avionics through hydraulics, metalwork and composites. It also included a day of familiarisation and Gorzelanczyk, who still had a lot to learn about subjects such as hydraulics and sheet metal working, took full advantage.

“I've never been shy to ask questions,” she said. “I took the same approach to the competition as I did during my time as a Bristow apprentice and asked as many questions as I could in the run-up to the finals.”

Problem-solving mindset

For the final, as well as learning about new skills, Gorzelanczyk applied the problem solving mindset Bristow teaches all its apprentices.

"I knew there were areas where I just didn't have the same depth of knowledge as the other finalists. But Bristow has helped me to develop a problem solving mindset and with the right approach I could create the right answers and solutions, even when I wasn't very familiar with the issue.

“In the hydraulics test, for example, I was able to use some of my experience in avionics to find a solution.”

And it paid off, because despite starting the finals as a reserve, Gorzelanczyk stormed up the leaderboard during the three days, and when the winners were announced she claimed third place!

“With her hard-earned Bronze medal in hand, Gorzelanczyk says: “I'm so grateful to everyone at Bristow who made it possible for me to take part and also to all the engineering team who gave me the skills and mindset to get to the podium.

"I'm more enthused than ever for a career in helicopter maintenance."