Case study

DESG Graduate Scheme: Andrew

Case study of a graduate on the MOD Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG) Graduate Scheme, doing an MSc in Explosives Ordnance Engineering.


Andrew graduated from university with a degree in Computer Science, and is now doing an MSc in Explosives Ordnance Engineering. He has been in the DESG Graduate Scheme for 18 months.

I first encountered DESG at a careers fair in university. It really caught me by surprise and stood out far more than the other stalls! The placement opportunities were broad and the scheme sounded remarkably flexible. I liked the idea of working in a range of different areas of defence and not being tied to a specific location. Additionally, I was impressed by how the DESG is able to guide graduates through to chartership within 4 years. One aspect which really sold the scheme to me was the feeling that working for the MOD would be a job where I could use my skills and make a difference.

I am currently studying for an MSc in Explosives Ordnance Engineering at the Defence Academy. As you may expect, the course is unique in the UK and attracts students from all over the world due to its reputation.

The work I’ve undertaken during my time on the scheme has been incredibly varied and always interesting. After my first placement in the Defence Ordnance Safety Group, I jumped at the chance to work in the US on a joint naval project with Future Submarines Project Team. Working in a small MOD team, I was afforded a large amount of responsibility, often acting as the sole UK representative on a number of design/build teams with the US Department of Defence and alongside several US contractors. It was a significant jump from my previous experience, but I find you always learn more when you are thrown in the deep end!

During my time in London, I was able to observe my work being used by several government departments, directly feeding into a Cabinet Office report. Furthermore, I’ve been lucky enough to complete the Damage Repair Instructional Unit (DRIU) sinking ship simulation, toured HMNB Clyde, home of the UK’s nuclear deterrent and been inside one of the Trident submarines, HMS Vigilant, these are just a few of my highlights!

Upon completion of the scheme, I hope to use my skills in a policy or analyst related post, focusing on tomorrows defence issues. I intend to pursue my Chartership application and aim to achieve this 2 years after I finish the DESG scheme.

The MOD is full of fantastic opportunities for engineering and science graduates, but the best ones are those you search for pro-actively. Approaching the DESG scheme with a “can do” attitude is perhaps the best advice I can give. Despite being one of the largest government departments, I’ve often found that the same people continue to crop up, so work on your networking skills too. It may end up opening doors you didn’t know existed.

Published 11 February 2013