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NATS Engineering Technician Scheme, info wanted

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NATS Engineering Technician Scheme, info wanted

Old 6th May 2011, 19:36
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NATS Engineering Technician Scheme, info wanted

Hi, first of all I hope this is the right section ...

just looking for some information on the NATS ATCE Technician scheme ...

I applied in January or February and completely forgot about it until I got a mail asking me to do the first stage assement test... day trip to England and a week and a bit later I've been called back for stage two

" This will consist of a formal interview, during which you will be asked the following question “Please technically explain the difference between Primary and Secondary Radar?” "

as the e-mail says .....


So do any past or present ATCE scheme people have any advice for the interview ?

also, how does the process progress after this, timeline wise, will I have to go back to England again on a day trip for medicals etc... ?

anyone any insight on some of the day to day things that happen during the scheme, have a rough idea but nothing as fact as I don't know anyone in NATS.

Last edited by aidob; 6th May 2011 at 19:56.
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Old 6th May 2011, 20:25
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Wow... they sure ask dead easy questions!

I'm not sure if any Tels (NATS word for engineers) inhabit this forum but I hope someone comes up to help you.

I'm certain you must know the anser to the question!
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Old 6th May 2011, 21:06
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lol , yeah handy enought alright, but doubt that's the only one, more of a guideline, and a chance for you to show how technical you can get when given a heads up on a question ...

hope so too, if there aren't any "Tels" on here, anyone any idea where I might find a forum with a few on it ?
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Old 6th May 2011, 21:33
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Have you looked at the NATS website ? It gives some hints on the recruitment process and the stage 2 interview. It also answers some of your questions on what happens during the scheme. You might need to ask HR how the medical will work for those outside of the UK.

As I think you might have realised if you think that question is easy you might need to think about it a bit more.
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Old 6th May 2011, 22:13
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Yeah I've had a good read through it, but just seeing if I can get any "first hand" info on people who are or who have done it before, website testimonials 9 times out of 10 only show the good points ...

That question isn't too bad, well from my point of view, more because I have an interest for years in radios and scanners etc... I'm sure anyone who has a radar box could give you a good insight on how secondary surveillance radar works, even if they aren't too technically minded, you pick up stuff like this as you go along...I'm pretty sure the answer can it can be as little or as much, technically, as you want it, but you'll be assessed by how in depth you go....

I could talk for a good 5 -10 mins on the difference (probably have to expand it a little for this lol)

anyways, keep the info coming and thanks for the responses people
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Old 7th May 2011, 07:17
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I'm not sure that the board will be too interested in "radar boxes" because there are a few fundamental differences between primary and secondary radar which is what they'll be looking for...
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Old 7th May 2011, 10:05
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it was an example of how a good knowledge of the two might be acquired by someone through their hobby, even if they aren't that technically minded, I haven't a radar box so I wasn't speaking personally. Of course I'm not going to go in and talk about radar boxes non stop, you're just being pedantic now.
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Old 7th May 2011, 10:15
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Prior to my retirement I, as part of a team, two engineers + HR, interviewed many (>100) people wanting to be NATS Engineers. The main failings which made us reject their applications were:
  • Poor appearance, wear a suit, or a jacket, collar and tie or female equivilent
  • Turn up on time
  • Read up on what NATS does, makes you look as if you care
  • Don't lie, it is mostly very easy to detect
  • Then technical expertise

As for the radar question I would suggest going to Wikipedia and reading/understanding what is there. It is a very good question as it has a great deal of depth so the interviewers can sort the men from the boys, plus it gives candidates a vast area in which to dig themselves into holes. For example your reference to 'radar boxes' would be a good opening to find out what you meant by that phrase?
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Old 7th May 2011, 11:26
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I second everything eglnyt and Goldfrog have said.


With interviews, preparation is the key. If you prepare well there’s less chance of you ending up looking like a p%$ck.
In my interview there were 3 people. 1 from HR and the other 2 from engineering, a senior manager and an engineer with in-depth knowledge of the systems used by NATS.


It is important to know what these people will be looking for.
The HR representative will be looking to see if you’re a good “company fit” i.e. not some nutter who can’t work harmoniously within a team. Teamwork is very important.


The engineering representatives will be looking to see how much information you know about the question they have asked you. Do not bullshit them as it will be very obvious. Do not make stuff up as you will end up digging a hole you can’t get out of. If you don’t know the answer to a question then say you don’t know. Honesty is very important and if you are offered a job, you will have to pass a security check.


Find out what NATS does, how it does it and where it does it from. All this information will be on its web site.


Regarding the radar question, a question is only simple if you know the answer. You will not be expected to know everything about radar, but an understanding of the different types and their limitations would be useful.
Any training is likely to take place at the CTC Whiteley Hants.


Best of luck
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Old 7th May 2011, 12:39
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You might want to read up a bit around the subject too, think of the advantages and disavantages of each system, their limitations and technical requirements. Have a light understanding of what is meant by cancellation, plot extraction and multilateration.
Do you know the capeabilities and vunerabilities of each system, do you know the requirements for aircraft to carry transponders?
I'd also have a look at a typical airport layout, and be aware of what technical systems and navigational aids there are and what they do.
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Old 7th May 2011, 19:35
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You're bound to get asked the definition of a radar mile, and perhaps to draw a block diagram of a double superhet receiver.....things like this.
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Old 8th May 2011, 09:26
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Originally Posted by Scot Cabin View Post
You're bound to get asked the definition of a radar mile, and perhaps to draw a block diagram of a double superhet receiver.....things like this.
I would be amazed if either of the above were raised now a days. NATS is now 95% a computer business.
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Old 8th May 2011, 15:39
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I would be amazed if either of the above were raised now a days. NATS is now 95% a computer business.
Goldfrog, I would have to disagree. Despite the large amount of computerised equipment, RF is still RF, and the bits of kit hanging off the end of these computers have to be able to transmit and receive it.

And a radar mile is still a radar mile.
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Old 8th May 2011, 15:47
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Comms Boy, Tigersaw and Scot Cabin, thanks for all the info and suggestions, all taken in ....

re: the computer comment, as Scot Cabin said, a lot of the RF stuff is still getting down and dirty with electronics.

Superhet was a great suggestion, will definitely be brushing up on that.


In the first stage assement there were questions on propagation, modulation, circuits etc...

AM demodulator was one of them (the simple diode, with the CR circuit)...
but they had 2 or 3 questions on scenarios where there was a faulty component and which do you think it was and why, so wouldn't surprise me at all if there were more of that asked in the interview.
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Old 9th May 2011, 22:20
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Learn the simple block diagram of a radar. You wont be expected to know what each component does but if you do, all the better. Know the differences between primary and secondary and what information we can get from them. You wont be expected to know a radar mile, sufficient to know that the distance is calculated by the time it takes for a pulse to hit a target and return.
You may get a circuit board put infront of you and asked to name the components and values etc. They may also throw in a daft thing like a plug wired wrong (they have in the past).
All Nats managers have done the same interview techniques course so you will be marked for simple things like seeming keen, eye contact and for Gods sake dont slouch down in your seat, sit up. These daft marks could be the difference between getting selected and not.
It's a tough interview process so good luck
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Old 10th May 2011, 00:23
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had the idea of the block diagram too, will definitely go over it again so ...

that practical stuff was in the phase one written test (precisely what you said, resistor colour codes, naming componants, there was a transistor question with a TTL and FET transistor where you had to name each leg and transistor type, diode question where you had to ID the anode and cathode and a mis-wired plug)

not that I'm complaining, would be handy if this stuff came up again, but does it come up in the interview ?

been to a couple of technical interviews the last while, still get nervous but I think I have ironed out the majority of the basic point losers like you said,
for some reason though you can never get rid of interview squeeky bum time though lol
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Old 10th May 2011, 22:32
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Sounds like the format of the interview may have changed for this intake if they covered all of that? They like the scenario type questions too like "tell us an occasion where you have improved a process" or "when you have dealt with a difficult customer". Always handy to prepare a few of them, they dont need to be work related.
Also, keep talking if you know what you are talking about. You cant give them too much info, they'll stop you when they have heard enough but be careful not to dig yourself into a hole. It's doesn't feel good to say "sorry, I don't know" but it's better than waffling rubbish. If you show them you have done some research and know about Nats as a company you'll get on fine. If you were able to visit a centre, that helps too but not easy if you are in Ireland.
Best of luck
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Old 11th May 2011, 19:21
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aidob,

Having interviewed NATS Direct Entrant Graduates and Industrial Placement students for a number of recent years, I'd say that there is some pretty good advice been posted here and if you follow it you won't go far wrong.

I'm not interviewing EngTechs and I haven't a clue what they will ask about, but if the radar question comes up, know what Mode S is when it comes to Secondary radar and you can't go far wrong.

Good luck!

RS
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Old 11th May 2011, 20:39
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thanks again everyone for the wealth of information !! It is really much appreciated
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Old 1st Jun 2012, 19:51
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NATS engineering technician scheme

I got an e-mail inviting me to Stage 1,unfortunately I wasn't able to make it on that day as I got the wrong info re:the price of the ticket.I found out on that day that I have to pay almost £300 from Euston,I don't have my money that time,I just go home and e-mail them.do you think it would be possible that I can have it re-schedule also,give me an insight on stage 1.

Thank you very much,
DJ1425
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