Working as an engineer on the front line of protecting our nation’s security is intrinsically rewarding. Add in the need to be innovative and creative to stay one step ahead of those who wish to do us harm makes for a career where you feel like you are really making a difference. The Engineer spoke to L3Harris advanced engineer Alice Smith.
Across the country there is a complex network of businesses and organisations working together to defend the UK from ever-evolving threats including terrorism, cyber-attacks and the actions of rogue states.
One such company is L3Harris, the newly formed global defence company, whose operations in Gloucestershire are focussed on using advanced cyber security and electronic warfare techniques to ‘prevent the event’.
I’ve always been interested in solving problems and trying to understand how things work
Alice Smith – Advanced Engineer, L3Harris
From its new state-of-the-art premises on the edge of the picturesque town of Tewkesbury, L3Harris has 180 engineers solving problems from encrypting government communications to preventing improvised explosive devices from being detonated remotely.
One of these is Alice Smith, an Advanced Engineer working on one of the organisation’s crypto cyber security projects.
Alice, who is focussed primarily on front end user interface development using Java, was led to explore a career in the defence industry by her keenness for problem solving. “I’ve always been interested in solving problems and trying to understand how things work,” she said. “Working at L3Harris allows me to test my brain and understand complex problems on a daily basis, and I love it.”
“I would not say that I actively looked to become part of the defence industry straight from university, but was but was drawn by the opportunity to be part of projects that could have a real impact on the world and people’s lives.”
Opportunities to work with different technologies, solving a range of problems and working in a supportive atmosphere have been crucial in Alice’s decision to develop her career with L3Harris. “An engineer should be able to apply skills to a multitude of tasks, be creative, innovative and open to trying out the new and wonderful to solve problems quicker and more effectively,” she said.
“Engineers are essentially big kids that are inquisitive towards new technology and want to find out how it works, breaks, how it can be enhanced, its limitations and where it can be used but may not have been before.”
“Working here, I’ve been able to move around between departments and projects regularly and understand different parts of the business which has helped me to become a better engineer. There’s a real family feel, allowing engineers to feel encouraged even when feeling the pressures of trying to solve challenging problems.
It’s hard to pick on a particular project or milestone that I am the most proud of, as I have been involved with so many projects in my engineering career, from new collaborative environments to brand new R&D. I have also lead multiple STEM projects over the last few years, where the teams have won awards for their work, which has been very rewarding to see. I think my proudest achievement would be my ability to move around and get stuck into new projects that are outside of my comfort zone and my ability to still deliver and learn quickly on the new tasks.
L3Harris in Tewkesbury has circa 300 employees and counting but successfully competes against much larger businesses delivering electronic systems in the fields of electronic warfare and cyber security. Click here to find out more about the orgnisation’s work in electronic warfare and cyber security.
Alice has worked for TRL (a wholly-owned subsidiary of L3Harris) for 4 years joining as a Graduate after studying Physics with Astrophysics at the University of Leicester. She has been involved with a multitude of different projects in this time in the areas of R&D, Systems and Software Development.