RAL Space — Didcot
"I wanted to have a positive impact on the world"
What do you do in your job?
As a systems engineer, I need to understand how parts fit together. I need to have good knowledge of the whole system – which might be a robot or a satellite instrument, for instance – and I need to know what each part (wheels, computer, cameras) does and how they interact with each other. I need to interact with the specialist engineers responsible for designing the individual parts and make sure they will fit together and work together at the end. As part of this, I also need to test the end product, be it robot or satellite instrument, to make sure it is fit for purpose.
If you had to summarise the impact your job has on everyday life – what would you say in two sentences?
My job enables research and testing of mobile robots that will have an increasingly important role in our society, for example in agriculture and rescue services. It may be many years from now or even a decade until these technologies will be in general use, but research needs to start now to develop the technologies to the point where they are useful. Automating tasks can be a controversial subject, but in many ways the robots are not a replacement but an extension of current production, enabling a world in which resources and commodities are cheaper and thus there is less poverty.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Seeing a completed robot working as expected during a field test, or brainstorming a brand new idea that could change the world.
What did you study at school?
At A level, I studied Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Statistics. I think statistics is a very important subject, often seen as boring but actually very useful for most science and engineering careers, and for understanding the news and spotting when media misrepresents facts.
What inspired you into a career in science/engineering?
I wanted to have a positive impact on the world, encouragement from my grandparents and friends, plus sci-Fi books and movies promising futures I would want to experience.
What top tips would you have for people wanting a job like yours?