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Kerry- Head of Profession for Electronics Engineering

How long have you worked at AWE?

Thirty years so far, and I continue to enjoy the diversity of engineering and leadership that have enabled me to progress from an electronics apprentice to Head of Profession for Electronics Engineering.

What does your role involve?

Delivering engineering capability; ensuring AWE has the right skilled resources, tools, techniques and engineering facilities available to meet the mission safely and securely. Working with industry, academia and the professional institutions to generate collaborative opportunities, building centres of excellence, sharing knowledge and promoting engineering. Collaborating with international peers, I co-chair the systems engineering joint working group to drive technology innovation. As Head of Profession, I am proud to be an ambassador for the discipline and sponsor the company’s Institution of Engineering Technology (IET) accredited professional development framework.

What is your previous experience?

Building on what I learnt from AWE’s apprenticeship and graduate development programmes, my early career gradually progressed into assuming technical accountability for electronics research, design and development. I then led a Radio Frequency design team developing novel short-range communications systems and an electromagnetic compatibility test capability. I also formed an engineering team with responsibility for designing high integrity electronic control systems. I had a privileged opportunity to lead a joint technology innovation programme working with peers at the US national laboratories. Over the past 15 years, I have undertaken a number of principal engineer and senior management roles within the science, engineering and technology division. Growing engineering technical capability, resource management and championing business change continue to feature prominently in my leadership role.

What is important about your discipline?

Engineering brings to life the fundamentals of science and creates something physical to solve a problem or meet a need. Electronics engineering enables the design of products and systems to have power, control, communication, intelligence and logic. If it uses power it needs some electronics circuitry around it!

Who do you work with?

I am part of a multidisciplined leadership team within the science, engineering and technology area. I work across the business and with a large cross-section of staff at all levels from apprentice to director. Externally I engage with the MOD, wider government and international partners. I manage strategic alliances with universities and professional bodies to promote and drive engineering innovation and capability. These include the UK Electronics Skills Foundation, Catapult Centres, Women in Science and Engineering and the IET.

 What is a typical day like?

Difficult to say ‘typical’ as every day is different; challenging and rewarding in equal measure with a mix of technical, project and people interactions. I could be mentoring a graduate, chairing an international technical working group, facilitating a budget review, leading a business change initiative or promoting engineering careers in local schools.

What projects are you working on?

I am working to deliver and sustain engineering capability (people, plant and processes). I am supporting the development of an early careers programme, implementing a company diversity and inclusion strategy, transforming technical knowledge management, and acting as sponsor for a facility modernisation programme.

 Share your views on the importance of research or STEM

It is often glibly said and yet genuinely I believe people are our greatest asset and there is a national skills shortage in STEM. We have a broader responsibility to positively promote STEM and encourage diversity – raising awareness and inspiring children from primary school upwards. AWE increasingly recognises and supports this challenge through many exciting and enriching outreach projects and I am very keen to play my part. Examples include mentoring, providing summer schools, sponsoring undergraduate scholarships and postgraduate research projects. Our award-winning Skills Academy and graduate programmes also provide excellent entry points for the business to grow its own STEM talent.

 What do you think is the biggest global challenge for your discipline?

Inspiring the next generation to want to be a creator not a consumer.

 

 

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