Beginning her career as electrical/electronic engineering apprentice, Julia now works within systems engineering on the BAE Systems FutureSubs project.
“I had not realised how isolated I felt until I joined (The IET). Now I have a presence within a community of like-minded engineers; with visibility of news, research and work of interest to me.”
Julia’s engineering journey began with the realisation that she didn’t want to stay in school after completing her GCSEs, but rather get out into the world and start earning her own living. She now works within Systems Engineering - Interface Management BAE Systems - Submarine Solutions “But I knew I had a lot to learn,” she says. “My older brother had started an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering with GEC Alston a few years previously and he was really enjoying it. That lead me to applying for various apprenticeships myself and I was accepted by GEC Plessey Telecommunications (GPT), as an electrical/electronic engineering apprentice.
Her first role on completion of the apprenticeship was within software development engineering, so she went back to studying but through university this time.
After gaining her degree in computer science she moved into process improvement and completed a postgraduate certificate in international technology management. During her time within various independent engineering companies she honed her engineering skills within test engineering and new product introduction and then made the move into the defence sector.
Now working for BAE Systems, Julia is involved in the FutureSubs project, as a part of the team designing nuclear submarines at Barrow-in-Furness. Her work focuses on the project’s systems engineering, ensuring interface management over the whole system by confirming that the interfaces mature in line with the design of the whole system (boat). She feels this current role is the most spectacular she’s worked on and that what the team is trying to achieve is awe-inspiring.
“You will never be an expert in everything, but you can add your expertise to the team and what the team produces is amazing,” she explains.
But what Julia loves most about her current position is the diversity.
“Every day and every situation is different,” she explains. “In one day, I can go from updating technical data from a specific design engineer, to reviewing another team’s technical documentation output and then presenting the latest relevant engineering information to a management forum. I am always learning and there is always something or someone to engage with,” she enthuses.
When it comes to professional registration, Julia wishes she was introduced to the concept earlier in her career. It was only after a decade in one large telecoms company and then another in various independent engineering companies within the oil and gas sector that she joined the defence industry. It was then she realised the benefits of professional registration and becoming an Incorporated Engineer (IEng).
“With GPT we were encouraged to join the IEEE where you can become a senior engineer, but nothing as diverse as the chartered institutes can offer. I believe professional registration encourages, standardises and maintains our engineering talent. We can progress in our own way, in our own time and also find a home with an appropriate institute; where we are recognised by our peers in a standardised way,” she says.
“I now consider it very important for engineers to choose to become professionally registered,” Julia continues. “I had not realised the sense of achievement I would feel to be finally recognised for what I had always thought of myself as, an engineer. We spend our professional lives providing solutions for technical problems within our chosen engineering disciplines, but to spend just a small amount of time applying to be recognised for those achievements, seems such a small amount to ask.
“Becoming an incorporated engineer has allowed me to rationalise all my achievements and now I have started reading for a masters degree in Systems Engineering - another goal has been set with new objectives to complete,” she adds.
For Julia the best thing about becoming an IET member was the sense of belonging.
“I had not realised how isolated I felt until I joined (The IET). Now I have a presence within a community of like-minded engineers; with visibility of news, research and work of interest to me,” she explains.
She is making the most of her membership by being an active member.
“I get the chance to submit papers, present or attend events within my particular area of expertise/interest,” she enthuses.
“If you want to progress within your chosen engineering discipline or just be recognised for your achievements and find a home (the IET is for you). There is something for everyone,” she concludes.