Human systems engineering in Defence
Olivia Hutchison, a graduate in Systems Engineering at Boeing Defence Australia, knew that she wanted to become an engineer after she took part in an engineering holiday camp in Year 11. A QUT graduate, Olivia chose to study Mechanical Engineering because she loves that it’s physics-driven. “There are also a lot of opportunities in many diverse industries”.
In Olivia’s current systems engineering role, she’s working on projects such as the upgrade of the Royal Australian Air Force’s Boeing-built E-7A Wedgetail aircraft. She describes her job as the management of complex systems and ensuring designs meet human factor requirements. “It involves human engineering: we look at how people interact with software and hardware and make sure the designs meet technical standards and customer needs.”
Olivia describes her degree as “a very hands-on experience”. She was able to work on projects with real-world applications “with great lecturers and industry involvement”, such as developing maintenance technology for the sugarcane industry during her final year thesis.
During her studies, Olivia took on roles as a QUT Science and Engineering Ambassador and peer tutor and in her final year, she became the president of the Girls in Engineering Making Statements (GEMS) student society. She even travelled to Denmark to take part in an exchange program. Olivia says that these extra-curricular programs were amazing experiences. “They taught me things that uni subjects alone don’t expose you to, like networking and managerial skills.”
Olivia says that “the best way to describe engineering is problem-solving. I always loved maths and science, and engineering gives you the opportunity to apply those skills to create some very cool things.”
Olivia’s career path:
>>> Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical), QUT
>>> Science and Engineering Ambassador and peer tutor, QUT
>>> Undergraduate Mechanical Engineer, BHP Billiton
>>> Undergraduate Engineer, Institute Pacific (Boeing Subsidiary)
>>> Graduate Engineer, Boeing Defence Australia
Author: Larissa Fedunik-Hofman
Larissa is the editorial assistant for Careers with STEM and a Chemistry PhD student. Larissa’s goal is to promote public engagement with STEM through inspiring stories.