The latest blog in our series, which looks at women in engineering, is from Wendy Ashing, Senior Project Safety Manager with NATS. She shares her experiences and reflections about her career below.
Perhaps my route to NATS began with my interest in maths and physics at school which led to my studying Physics and Applied Physics with Electronics at Nottingham University, where I gained insight into the application of physics in industry.
Prior to working for NATS I worked with several safety consultancies as a safety engineer in different industries including nuclear, defence, rail as well as aviation at NATS.
It was there I worked on the Oceanic Programme responsible for producing safety arguments for system changes and I’m pleased to say I was later recruited into the company.
Today, I plan and manage the safety related activities on projects designed to improve the efficiency of the UK’s airspace. It’s my job to ensure systems meet their safety requirements and that the solution is adequately documented on time and to cost.
In airspace, ‘systems’ cover people, procedures, equipment and the operational environment so understanding the issues associated with change is vital: How change impacts on all these systems and how they can be resolved to ensure that the new airspace design is put into service safely, with no impact on existing systems.
I work with a variety of people to identify the safety risks associated with change; engineers, human factors specialists and air traffic controllers, who have quite different views on the impact of change. Trying to resolve the different issues that need to be in place on systems and airspace design is a challenge but one I enjoy. It helps me to develop a wider understanding and greater perspective whilst working within a team which has such a range of expertise.
Seeing these projects implemented gives me a great sense of achievement. For the future I’d like to continue to develop my role within airspace safety and also to gain more of an appreciation of the Unit Safety and Investigation functions.
As an employer, NATS allows you to progress your career to best utilise peoples skill sets and interests. It is possible to start within a core engineering role but move across the organisation to research, policy or management roles depending on how you would like your career to develop.
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