What's your job about?
Saab is primarily a software engineering company, specialising in software that goes on Australian Navy ships (among other defence projects). I work in our modelling and analysis team, who create the simulations and ‘brains’ behind our software algorithms. We design new algorithms and models, test them extensively via thousands of simulations, and if they work well we pass this information to the software team to implement.
My current project is Air-to-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD). I look at designing algorithms which defend friendly navy ships from potential attacks. For example, if ten missiles were fired at your navy frigate, what would be the best way to defend yourself and maximise your probability of survival? I code up our designs and run multiple different scenarios to see how well the algorithm works, and regularly add new features which better reflect what we actually see in reality.
Most of my code is done in MATLAB, with any graphs that we make of the results created in R. My team also regularly works with Python and Java to perform any supplementary tasks.
What's your background?
I lived most of my life in Brisbane, finishing my high school degree with the International Baccalaureate at Queensland Academy for Science Mathematics and Technology. I started studying dentistry at the University of Queensland before realising I was much more interested in engineering and switched over to electrical engineering after my second year. During my second year of engineering, I took a semester abroad at Purdue University, which I would highly recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to do so. Not only was it fun to travel and live in a different country, but the perspective I gained from studying at an American university was immensely helpful in giving me the understanding and appreciation for the university system we have in Australia.
During uni, I undertook three different internships, firstly working in risk assurance at PwC (not engineering related at all), then as a signal processing intern at Kaelus, and finally as a research engineer at DSTG. These experiences were all markedly different from each other, providing me with different skillsets I could utilise in the future. I applied for the graduate position at Saab in my final year and have been working here at Mawson Lakes for just under a year now.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes! I think that anyone who has a background in STEM would be likely to perform fairly well in my job. The more programming experience they have the easier it would be to start up, but there are plenty of training opportunities to improve any necessary skills they may lack. Although technical skills are highly desirable, the more important, and harder to train skills would be in creative problem solving, and in particular a willingness to learn from all the experienced people in the company.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is the ability to apply my problem-solving skills every day. It is very satisfying to be able to come up with a creative solution to the technical challenges we have at work and to see the results we create being implemented in real deployable software.
What are the limitations of your job?
One caveat of working in the defence industry is the relatively long time frames for each project. That means that if you’re looking to work on something new every couple of months, that’s unlikely to happen unless you were to move around within the company.
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