Two Kingston University undergraduates have played a major part in developing a design — still a closely guarded industrial secret — that could make airborne travel more comfortable.
Mandeep Jarnail, 21, and Jasbir Rana, 23, have spent the past year putting their textbook knowledge to the test after being chosen to take part in the pilot of a new graduate apprenticeship scheme.
The university first agreed to put the concept through its paces after an approach from the Engineering and Marine Training Authority (Emta).
The pair have become the first engineering students in the United Kingdom to complete a programme aimed at bridging the gap between education and industry.
The students, who are studying aerospace engineering at Roehampton Vale, spent six-week stints at Britax Aircraft Interior Systems in Camberley.
Starting on the shop floor, Mr Jarnail and Mr Rana gained an in-depth understanding of the firm's operations.
Although unable to disclose details about the product while a patent application is in the pipeline, they said the experience had opened their eyes to the importance of linking innovation with the practicalities of manufacturing.
"One of the best outcomes is that we are now able to head into our final year with far more confidence," Mr Rana said.
As well as being armed with new skills, the students have received another reward. Britax has announced it will sponsor them through the last stage of their studies.
Emta business development manager George Wilder said the scheme would put students on the right route to becoming ideal employees.
"There is a definite need for work-based learning to be integrated with degree learning," he said.