Member of Engineers Australia
- Air Transport Operations Engineer
- MBA, Deakin University/APESMA, Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), Sydney University, Bachelor of Science (Hons), Sydney University
- Melbourne, Australia
I remember Red Arrows practicing above our house in England, and watching the 1969 Apollo Moon Landing, wondering how to get a piece of the action. So when it came time to decide what to do with the rest of my life, I chose a Computer Science and Aeronautical Engineering Double Honours Degree at Sydney University. It was a heavy workload, but I enjoyed learning about computer image processing, aerodynamics, and structural engineering.
My first job was with a civil engineering computer bureau, supporting a home-grown CAD package and installing workstations (pre-IBM PC!!). I realised pretty quickly “Help Desk Guru” was not for me.
In the late ‘80s I spent 18 months in a Civil Aviation Authority training position, sampling various airworthiness and regulatory jobs (and freezing in Canberra’s winters). Three months at the Flying Unit in Melbourne confirmed I enjoyed getting dirty playing with aeroplanes.
I moved to Melbourne as a Structures Engineer for Ansett Airlines; my responsibilities included the introduction of the A320. Ansett’s A320s were fleet leaders which meant we were often the first to experience in-service issues and had to work closely with Airbus for solutions. The A320 was also the first large-scale use of composites, which brought its own inspection and repair issues. Ansett pioneered thermal imaging to detect moisture ingress into thick honeycomb panels.
An opportunity arose in the mid-1990s with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s Melbourne Engineering field office as a Senior Airworthiness Engineer. This expanded my knowledge of civil aviation design and manufacturing to include avionics, flight testing and other disciplines, across aircraft as varied as balloons, ultralights, helicopters, and jumbos. In 2003, CASA and airline industry changes created a need for performance and weight-and-balance expertise, and I transferred to a new Air Transport Operations Engineer role. I was involved with major airlines, and charter operators such as Skytraders (who operate for the Australian Antarctic Division). Entry control and audit took me to the Cocos-Keeling Islands, remote mining sites in WA, and major Australian and New Zealand cities, for both passenger and freight operations. But, alas, I missed out on going to Antarctica because the AAD medical officer (sensibly) pointed out 8 months was “too pregnant” for such a long flight to such an isolated destination…
Yes, like many women, I now combine motherhood and professional life. The balance has not been easy, as many potential jobs are fulltime all(-and-then-some)-or-nothing affairs. I want to play more of a role in my children’s lives than absentee co-breadwinner. I know many others (men and women) with the same complaint, but not many are lucky enough to afford it.
I have started a part-time PhD in Environmental Engineering at the University of Melbourne, using remote sensing for hydrological monitoring of inland rivers. All those years of image processing have proven useful, as has a lifelong interest in geology and ecology. And I finally get to work with space technologies! It seems the next phase of my working life will be as an academic.
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Engineers Australia is proud to announce that 2011 is the Year of Humanitarian Engineering