This Saturday is the International Day of the Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel and, coincidentally (or maybe not), today marks the start of Tomorrow’s Engineers week, a week which aims to shine a spotlight on engineers and the key role they play in every workplace. This year, NATS is celebrating these awareness events by supporting the Women’s Engineering Society with their ‘Lottie doll tour’. The Lottie Tour is an annual campaign which sees Lottie visit many different locations to raise awareness of the range of opportunities and careers available within the engineering profession.

I’ve been interested in anything mechanical from a very young age, aided by working on cars with my dad from the age of seven. As a young teenager, I became fascinated by aviation and air traffic control so, once I’d completed my GCSE’s and A-Levels, I chose to study Aeronautical Engineering at Northbrook College in Shoreham. After completing my course, I began working for Virgin Atlantic at Gatwick Airport which further cemented that aviation was definitely the industry for me. Fast forward 15 years and I’m now a Group Engineering Manager based at Farnborough airport.

I’ve always enjoyed working in engineering as it is such a captivating subject with so many different areas to specialise in. In my role, I find operational engineering really thrilling as our team are directly responsible for supporting air traffic control which in turn plays a part in helping the rest of the UK travelling by air. Our area of engineering requires us to think fast and tackle problems head on and whilst this can at times be high pressure, I have always found it to be very rewarding. I’m also super lucky in that I get to work with a great team which makes going to work each day a lot of fun.

Whilst I thoroughly enjoy my job, I am aware that when someone mentions engineering, it may not spark initial thoughts of working in air traffic control or the aviation industry. When I saw that the Women in Engineering Society talking about their tour of the Lottie doll on LinkedIn, I really wanted NATS to get involved to highlight that engineering can exist is the less obvious industries too.

Nicky with the WES Lottie doll at Farnborough Airport

Engineering can often still be thought of as a male dominated environment, but things are progressing, and the diverse thinking offered by young women is critical to the evolution of not only our business, but of the aviation industry as a whole. Supporting women in STEM and the wider aviation industry is of high priority for NATS, so taking the WES Lottie doll on a tour of some of our centres to show off the variety of different engineering roles that we offer, felt very fitting!

Showcasing the opportunities within engineering whilst inspiring young and brilliant minds is key to our future. International ATSEP Day and Tomorrow’s Engineers week offers a host of opportunities to find out more about engineering and help those seeking career guidance or inspiration as well as supporting. If you’re sat here thinking about whether a career in engineering may be for you, then I’m here to tell you that is!

NATS offers some fantastic schemes as an entry point, such as our Early Careers scheme which is currently recruiting for our 2023 intake of graduate schemes and industrial placement. If you’re considering a career that’s engineering related, take a look and see if the wonderful world of aviation could be where your career takes off.


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Ian Gelder

Great that NATS is spotlighting their engineers. I’m sure you have experienced telling someone that you work in ATC and then they think you are a controller. And congratulations in achieving your position within 15 years even though I assume you were a graduate entry.



Nick Smith

Love the photo of you and the full size Lottie doll wearing the hi viz jacket! Loved reading your story


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