Wondering what kind of craziness I've signed up to...
I did a one year placement at Surrey Satellite Technology then got a graduate job at Airbus Defence and Space and stayed here ever since!
Spacecraft Structures Engineer on the ExoMars Rover mission
Airbus Defence and Space Ltd
Lead Engineer for the Structure Design on the first European Mars Rover
I currently lead a team of specialist engineers designing the structure – the body – of ExoMars – the first European Mars rover. I picked it up 3 years ago as a concept design, and had to develop the basic design into something that meets all the details and requirements of the full mission to Mars, and also can be made! To do this we have to brainstorm a lot of design solutions to tricky problems, test out the best ones to develop them, and then finalise a design that best meets all of our requirements. I also do a lot of schools and public outreach – talking about Engineering, and the UK Space Industry (which is huge and growing yet no-one knows it exists), and in particular the ExoMars mission, to anyone who will listen! :o)
My Typical Day
Coming up with design ideas for tricky details, talking to my team of experts, arranging tests, overseeing manufacture
I’m in charge of a team of specialists, who each focus on a specific area of the structure design, like the 3D computer modeling, the materials, the strength analysis, manufacture, and so on. I have to come up with the concept design, make sure it meets all of their needs and requirements, and if not, develop the idea with them into something that they are happy with. When that’s done we have to demonstrate that it will work with computer analysis or real-life testing, and if it doesn’t, we try again til it’s perfect. Then we freeze the design and send it to the manufacturing company, and I oversee their manufacture and answer any technical questions or issues they have, and make sure it’s all going to plan.
What I'd do with the money
Buy loads of 3D glasses for my presentations so that I can include the 3D experience of Mars that we made in all my schools talks
Last year we made a really cool interactive 3D experience for occulus rift, where you land on Mars, and go bouncing over the surface, and find our rover there, sciencing. Then you can take the rover apart and look inside and see how it’s been designed and what goes where, and learn all about it. Anyway it’s pretty cool but it only works for the person with the £1000 occulus rift headset on. And I’m not allowed to borrow that for some reason… Anyway, I want to convert that experience into standard 3D that you can watch with 3D glasses, so that I can play it when I go out and do school talks, and I can take everyone on a magical mystery tour of Mars and our rover, which would be much cooler than just powerpoint slides. But then I need money to buy the glasses…
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Not very tall
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Designed stuff that is now in space, orbiting the Earth! (Sensible answer) Also hula-hooped on the wing of a Concorde. (Less sensible answer) And drove a Mars Rover at two heads of state when I wasn’t sure if it was going to stop. (Pretty stupid but they asked me to – it’s a long story) And got a private tour of NASA (Epic) And went on Stargazing live with Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain and Brian May from Queen. (Terrifying) Loads of things have been great, really!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Anything that let me draw, design and create things for a living.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Rarely- I was pretty shy. I used to get told off for always asking when I was EVER going to use certain Maths things in real life. Turns out- loads. Ooops.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Something else creative- maybe Product Designer or Architect?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Currently loving James Bay – he comes from my town and I used to watch him in pubs before he was famous! I also love Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox 20 and Something Corporate- but they were old when I was at school so they’re even older now!
What's your favourite food?
I make a mean Chocolate Brownie, does that count?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Bought an ex post van, converted it to a camper and drove around 24.5 European countries with my boyfriend in my 4 month summer holiday from Uni!
Tell us a joke.
Three kittens are on a sloping roof- which one slides off first? The one with the lowest Mew.