Kathleen Boseley spoke to Mel & Dom about how she and her team at Airbus are coping with COVID. Because while work and life has become a challenge, if you’re creative with it, it can actually be really beneficial.
there’s no pandemic 101 leadership course
Kathleen’s love for all things flight started when she was pretty young. She was good at maths and science and loved playing with lego. But was thinking of becoming a marine biologist! Her dad successfully talked her out of that one though.
Perhaps the biggest influence for Kathleen was growing up she spent a lot of time with her aunt who was an airline hostess for TAA.
So Kathleen would travel domestically with her aunt, which back in those days most families really didn’t do. And she had family in the US, so there would be trips there too.
Initially her mind turned towards becoming a pilot.
I do love the smell of jet fuel
Extra discussions during the episode
Future: UAVs (aka Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)
you only really have a pilot in the cockpit for people’s confidence
Advice: Keep the big picture in your mind
what is it that you actually want to work on?
The mobile phone & GPS
how widely accessible, and how things have moved in such a great pace.
Grace Murray Hopper
She found a moth causing problems inside the Mark 2. And that’s where computer bug came from.
Kathleen Boseley has over two decades experience at five large international aerospace companies in three countries with predominantly engineering lead, quality, technical engineering management, and project management roles spanning all phases of aircraft and avionics lifecycles.
Kathleen has presented papers at various Navigation conferences in the USA and was named one of the 50 leaders to watch by the magazine GPS World in 2008. Recipient of the Outstanding Performance in Engineering and Technology award – Aviation/Aerospace Australia -2014, she has served as Deputy Chief Engineer on the MRH 90 helicopter and as the Head of Independent System Monitoring for Airbus on the Rotary Wing platforms.
She is the Manager of Engineering Services across all platforms for Airbus in Australia Pacific. A Fellow of Engineers Australia she sits on the Women in Aviation Aerospace Australia committee, QUT and Monash Academic Advisory Boards.
Kathleen is passionate about Inclusion and Diversity and tries to balance work with sailing, catching up with friends and being a Mum to her two boys.
This is a “close” copy of the words that were spoken during the Podcast, Season 4 Episode 27
It is not 100% accurate.
The guest was Kathleen Boseley
Kathleen: [00:00:00] sounds really weird, but I do love the smell of jet fuel. I used to always fight people for the window seat. So, I ended up, looking at becoming a pilot, but then I went and talked to the air force and I’ve got scoliosis. So then I was like, okay, so math, science, engineering. I just decided that, I should have a look at engineering. and my grandfather was actually a civil engineer.
[00:00:19]so had a bit of a chat with him about it.
[00:00:22]so then I was actually going to go to University of New South Wales and do aerospace, but the mechanical. Like aeronautical. and then in Brisbane, they kicked off, the avionics course in 1992 and I graduated 91 from school. So it just sort of, kind of fell into place. it was good because we were the first course through, but there’s kind of advantages or disadvantages. So like advantages was, they had heaps of extra funding, so we got to go to the air show. We got to do helicopter lessons in Robinson 22s, which was really cool. Like I’m not paying for this. This is great. Um, but then like you go to uni and you’re talk to a lecture and it was like the first of the course and you’d have three lecturers show up and go, Oh, you’re taking it. Oh no. I thought you were taking, you know, and you’re like, we don’t care. Just someone teach us something.
[00:01:10] So that was, that was kind of cool.
[00:01:12] Mel or Dom: [00:01:12] after you finished your degree, what was your first job that you worked on?
[00:01:16]Kathleen: [00:01:16] My first role after university was I got, a job at an Amberley, at the air force base , working on F1-11s, which is really cool. And,
[00:01:25] Mel or Dom: [00:01:25] Talking Robinsons and F1-11, basically, if you’ve written out, but you basically take two of the coolest boxes you could possibly take in regards to engineering, kind of right out of the, box. So.
[00:01:38] Kathleen: [00:01:38] Uh, I, it was, it was very cool. And then, it was interesting though, cause you kind of, we had an American chief engineer, so it was with Rockwell international. Then we got bought out by Boeing pretty quickly. but the American chief engineer was this really big, loud American and quite intimidating when you went to meet him.
[00:01:55] And, he basically turned around and told us that, you’re pretty much spuds and you need to just start learning stuff. I guess, at that, I kind of took that away and I was like, how can I be a spud, I’ve just done four years of uni, I’ve learned all this stuff, you know, and all this study.
[00:02:11]anyway, so that’s always a bit harsh. So it was kind of, I look at it now and in reflection I’m like, how can you turn being a spud into something like potato gratin or, you know, something a little bit more exciting.
[00:02:24] Mel or Dom: [00:02:24] and grow into a sunflower or.
[00:02:27] Kathleen: [00:02:27] Exactly that would be nicer. So anyway when I was working there, I ended up, I guess my first project, which I won’t be able to talk to you about, cause it was classified. But, the second project I worked on, was all around electronic warfare upgrades. so what we were doing was, the system that was on the aircraft was quite old.
[00:02:44]and then we upgraded it, and then we actually upgraded it again before I left them and went overseas to work. the advantage in going through that whole process, I guess the key things that I got out of it was I got to work with the maintainer. So it was in, working with them. Coming up with ideas, but actually seeing if it practically could be implemented.
[00:03:03] So I think that was something that I found invaluable, was working with the maintainers hand in hand. And then we also did some cockpit trials. So we had to do, like, we create up some mock ups, where we’re adding a control unit to the cockpit. And then we had to sit with air crew and we went, fit it to the simulator and got the opinions. It’s it, there’s a joke, a running joke about how you can get five air crew in a room and get 10 opinions. But it was, it was actually really interesting. I did something similar when I worked in the UK as well. it’s good to get perspectives from both angles. Obviously the people using equipment and flying it, plus people having to maintain it, it’s about the whole package.
[00:03:40] And I think that was important for me, is to appreciate those different aspects of when you’re looking at designs. So, yeah, but after, after finishing up there, I did four years with them and then I went over to the UK.
[00:03:52]Mel or Dom: [00:03:52] so that company was eventually Boeing, wasn’t it? You said they’d got bought out by Boeing. And where are you now though?
[00:04:00] Kathleen: [00:04:00] Yeah. Okay. So I went overseas for like 10 years and did two years in the UK with Raytheon. And then I did that six and a half with Honeywell in Florida. And then about a year and a half, a little bit over with Northrop Grumman in San Diego. And then, um, being back in Australia just hit 10 years with Airbus and we were Australian aerospace and then we went through rebadging and then we were, Well, we tied the tie by to Airbus in, in Europe.
[00:04:27] Mel or Dom: [00:04:27] So, what sort of things are you doing for Airbus?
[00:04:30] Kathleen: [00:04:30] Uh, so when I first came back, I was working as a senior avionics systems engineer, on the MRH-90. So the, the Taipan, which is the replacement for the Black Hawks. and then I progressed into the deputy chief engineer role for MRH. they’re up in Oakey.
[00:04:45]they’re in Townsville and they’re also down in Nowra at the Navy base. And then we’ve just over the last couple of years, at special forces. So down in Holsworthy. I did that role for .. until end of 2016. And then , the regulations for the defense force changed into the what they call the defense aviation safety regulations.
[00:05:03] And as part of that, some new positions were created. so our whole organization restructured around that, and I took another role as a form four holder, in the independent system monitoring space. So it a bit more of a quality role, but overseeing the engineering. And I did that for a couple of years.
[00:05:21] And then we just had a bit of a reorg about two years ago. And that’s when I changed again into managing engineering services. which has been really exciting because now I’m actually across, MRH ARH , the Tiger platform as well.
[00:05:34] Mel or Dom: [00:05:34] Are these all planes?
[00:05:35] Kathleen: [00:05:35] So those are helicopters, sorry. And then, so for the army and the Navy flies some MRH’s out of Nowra, but the Tiger’s flown out of Darwin.
[00:05:46]And also in Oakey and then we have fixed wing elements. So we have the, for the air force, we have C1-30. we also would be doing P3 down in Edinburgh, but I don’t have that part of the team for me. And that I still have, 50 people across those three platforms. So it’s been really good because it’s interesting to work with the army and in the Navy and then back with the air force.
[00:06:07] Cause that’s kind of what I started with.
[00:06:08] Mel or Dom:[00:06:08] yeah, it’s a very military. I mean, I know you’ve done a lot of other things in the middle but the, the two examples you’ve done the beginning and then your current. It’s all building planes or helicopters for military.
[00:06:21] Is that an expectation of when you go into this kind of industry, this part of engineering?
[00:06:28] Kathleen: [00:06:28] Well, it’s really interesting because a lot of what I did in terms of work experience was actually commercial. And I always thought I’d end up working at QANTAS. So it was kind of what I thought.
[00:06:35] Mel or Dom: [00:06:35] I was thinking.
[00:06:36] Kathleen: [00:06:36] Yeah. And, I actually did get offered a job with QANTAS. So when I was working with Boeing, I went and had an interview in Sydney and it was an interesting interview.
[00:06:44]but. It was, it was a good job. It’s just like the plane was delayed on the way down and delays on the way back. And there was talking to someone on the way back and they like, yeah, they’re like, Kathleen, they need you Anyway, it was pretty funny. but it just, it just turned out. Actually I was better situation was to end up staying in Brisbane for a little bit longer. Cause my thing was, I really wanted to travel and because I was actually born in the US I could work in the US which I didn’t get, but I kind of got there after working for the UK for two years was a bit of a detour.
[00:07:16]so I was pretty fortunate from that perspective. and my husband’s actually an engineer as well. We’ve worked together and we’ve not worked together and yeah, it’s been good that we can travel together and generally both work.
I think you can’t really go past COVID and all the varying challenges that it has brought, especially more recent times. It’s quite interesting. If you think back 12 months, it’s just amazing how much has changed. I was sick last week and I couldn’t go see the doctor because they said, Oh no, you have to go get a COVID test.
[00:07:50] So then I go get a COVID test, it comes back negative. I ring up said, can I come see the doctor now? And they’re like, no. We can call you. And I said, well, you can’t look at my throat if you call me. So I’d really like to see the doctor, so they’re like I can give you a carpark appointment. I’m like, Oh wow, but I’ll take it, take it.
[00:08:08] So, anyway, I guess that’s just the things that have changed. Just in general for everyone from an engineering perspective, for me personally, being a manager of 50 people, it’s been quite a challenge with people not having worked remotely or virtually before. So I, you know, I’ve got a couple of people who have, I had tried it, but not very many.
[00:08:28] And so I guess it’s really about how you keep them engaged and maintain motivation and just, you know, deal with that sort stuff that they’re going through. I guess it’s, I’ve had other challenges as well. We had to look at when it was all first, unfolding, I guess and we were seeing what was happening in Italy and in New York and everything is like, okay, what’s going to be like for Australia, are we going to be in the same situation where we have to deal with transiting lots of sick people and how do we clean the MRH in between transits. So we were looking at,
[00:08:59] Mel or Dom: [00:08:59] MRH?
[00:09:01] Kathleen: [00:09:01] Yeah, sorry, the MRH 90, the Taipan helicopters.
[00:09:04] So they actually, their troop carriers, but basically we can do medivac type as well as, as a configuration and as cycle. Okay. We have to carry people who have been infected. How do you clean it in between Missions, I guess, as we would call it. Uh, so there was lots of, you know, talking back with our counterparts in Europe about cleaning protocols and the actual products that we could use.
[00:09:28] And then of course, you know, shortages of what those products were and did they meet the, Australian standards? Because we encountered that in sometimes differences between what chemicals we think are dangerous versus what Europe thinks are dangerous. So there’s a lot of that. So it was quite an interesting exercise and obviously something that we were really motivated to do in a quick timeframe so that we can sort of be ready to support.
[00:09:52]Mel or Dom: [00:09:52] you’re working on the military planes, are they, are they still running normally or are they also being very restricted? Like the commercial flights and such.
[00:10:03] Kathleen: [00:10:03] Went back in April, we had a sort of shut down with, the tiger sort of stop operating for a little while. But yeah, as part of that, we were like, okay, how long is it going to be? So there’s sort of. Maintenance to do for a certain period, but if it’s going to be longer than you’ve got to do more.
[00:10:17]so yeah, there’s definitely be some around that, but no, they’re pretty much back in operating again now. and then, C1-30s. Yeah. They’ve they haven’t stopped at all. And MRH was still going because we thought we were going to need to be supporting medivac type situations, especially with, the peak of COVID, based on what we’d seen overseas.
[00:10:35]for me, that’s being something front of mind, especially with our linkage back into the broader Airbus, in Europe and I guess even just Keeping my team motivated and positive it’s just like, you know, there’s no pandemic 101 leadership course that everyone does at uni or is like, you know, kind of like I’m making decisions at the time. I had people who were used to working at home, so they were fine. And other people, like, I don’t even have a place or they’re plugging their laptops look into their 60 inch TVs sitting up sharp ring. And I mean, you know, everyone’s different.
[00:11:11] Mel or Dom: [00:11:11] Do you find that the, there are certain staff members who work from home really easily and others that you’ve had to basically get them up to speed on how to do it and what to do.
[00:11:22] Kathleen: [00:11:22] Yes. And, I think what ended up happening was, because everyone was okay, we’ve got to get like, I’m sure most businesses doing something similar. We had a business continuity plan. So, we would, how do we get physical distancing to make sure that we’re all safe within the work environment.
[00:11:36] So, People were getting stressed. So I just sent half my team home and then we kind of adopted these red and blue team approach. So basically trying to say that if we had one person got infected in the red team, then you still have a blue team that can still keep the business going, effectively. plus you obviously don’t want to, you try and minimize the infection if it was to happen.
[00:11:57] Luckily, we didn’t have that, but you know, that was the strategy and I’m sure most businesses were adopting something similar.
[00:12:03]my whole team got sent home for about three months. I feel like it was, we didn’t go back in the office till July, and then we were staggered back on red and blue team. So yeah, a lot of people didn’t cope as well. So I started virtual morning teas or afternoon teas tended to be more afternoon teas, but, just to give people information about what’s going on, but also just to check in with people. So I was like trying to come up with ideas on how to check in with people. And then I played Scattergories with my kids. So I got the Scattergories dice. Cause you know how it’s got like all the letters pretty much except. Hmm. I don’t know what my team were thinking about me, but I’d roll the dice and pick a letter and then I’d just pull people’s names that started with that letter.
[00:12:46] So it was also a good test for me to see if I could remember all 50 people in my team. So, but yeah, so it was, it was actually pretty good to do it that way. And then just more recently, I’ve started, Especially with all the lockdown and stuff, and everyone’s been a but sad cause everyone had holiday plans.
[00:13:00] well, not everyone, but a lot of people had holiday plans that were kind of going out the window. So I started doing, everyone has to do a virtual background if they have favorite holiday destination, and then people get to talk about it and explain why it’s a favorite. So that’s been quite nice. we’ve done that for the last couple of got another one tomorrow, actually.
[00:13:18] So…. but I’m yeah picking letters. So, I don’t know what happens, what, I don’t know what my next plan is when I, when we get through the alphabet for that one. But, but it’s actually been really fun. And I told someone and they were like, ah, and I was like, yeah, some people might feel that way in my team, but it’s actually really funny because I overheard some people talking in the coffee room and they’re like, Oh, I’ve just got so many favorite places.
[00:13:38] I don’t know what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll do like a collage. And I’m like, Oh, this is good. You know? And it’s just nice because I know people that have been struggling, you know, and there’s people who. For different reasons. Like I’ve got one guy and his family were impacted by the Bush fires, you know, at the beginning of the year, then his girlfriend lost her job with COVID in Brisbane.
[00:13:58] So then they’ve moved house and it’s just been a lot of stuff going on for him. And then I think his family also were impacted by COVID down South, in terms of jobs and stuff. you just have to be kind and cut people a bit of slack.
[00:14:08]people struggle in different ways. and some people are fine. I, my husband’s been working from home for a while, so he’s like, it’s no different for me. And I’m like, ah, I don’t know. I’m a bit more extroverted than him.
[00:14:21] I’m like, I’m not sure I like this.
[00:14:23]Mel or Dom: [00:14:23] And it’s interesting to see that, difference in people as well. Cause we have, one of the guys who works for us and he’s been working from home for years and does it so well, absolutely loves it. whereas we had quite a few people who were, where we sort of said where you need to have you working from home and.
[00:14:42] Because they’d lost the connection with the people that they were seeing every day, those coming to work was basically part of the socialization. They got to catch up with. Our friends were friends with the people who, they work with. So it was really, they had. Really hated having been moved back home because they lost that, that connection with people that, is what sort of got them up and out of bed.
[00:15:05] And, you know, they enjoyed coming into work to work and talking to people. But I suppose it also depends on how you do shift it. And it was interesting how you were saying with the backgrounds. Cause one of. our clients, they’re an architectural firm and every time, they’re on, they’ve got one of their projects behind them.
[00:15:23] So they’re kind of running through all of their projects of of jobs they’ve done. So you seem to go, Oh, that’s a good one. Where is that? And I sort of sit there. Yeah. And they tell you, you know, the story about where the project is and what it is. And so it’s actually worked in a really good way to sort of highlight the work that they’ve done and give you a bit more of an understanding about some of the projects that, you know, they they’ve got on their books. So I think if you’re creative with it, it can be really beneficial.
[00:15:49]Kathleen: [00:15:49] And I mean, you know, maybe I’m only hitting only 90%, maybe I’m being a bit optimistic. I don’t know. Maybe a 70% actually enjoy it, but it’s like, Oh, well, you know, it was funny actually last week. Oh, the internet was crappy because we’re in Brisbane and we were having these massive storms.
[00:16:06] So things were dropping out. Um, but one guy had a backdrop and he had like a dock and it was really funny cause someone behind him in the office was walking past and he looked like he was on the dock, bending over, picking a fish up out of the water or something. It was like so weird, but it was really funny.
[00:16:20] I think, you know, everyone had a bit of a laugh about it and, yeah. So, it’s those sorts of things that I take, you know, it’s good to have a little bit of a laugh. A lot of other crazy stuff that you kind of control, can be stressing you out. And I agree with you. We had people who were actually asking if they could come in more because we’re doing the week on week off.
[00:16:38] And I think, we’re looking at how we can do that going forward. more of, uh, giving people flexibility. I guess we were gonna close down one of our buildings and pull people back into a different building anyway, and this is kind of just accelerated it.
[00:16:51] And so it’s, it’s about that. being able to work a couple of days of the week in the office, as opposed to one week on and one week off, I think that seems to be working better for people. And, yeah, we’ve got people who work is their social connection. So it’s important to take care of that for
[00:17:07] Mel or Dom: [00:17:07] are you able to plan far out in the future? Like if I said, you know, COVID is all done tomorrow. Have you got plans in place on what the new world would look like? Or are you kind of playing a wait and see game?
[00:17:21] Kathleen: [00:17:21] No, we’ve actually got like a new, what I’m calling just a roster. And then people are going to have desk buddies and that, you know, some people aren’t so keen on that as well. So we’ve had some challenges with that, but generally speaking, most people are on board with it because it offers them a level of flexibility.
[00:17:38] We have some people who live like on the gold coast and some people live on the sunshine coast. So, you know, commuting every day is not ideal. So they’re gonna take advantage of that, and not have that big commute every day. So, we just assigned desk buddies, hopefully everyone’s okay with who their desk buddy is.
[00:17:54] Mel or Dom: [00:17:54] So the idea is once COVID has been resolved, you’ll still move forward with the desk buddy system and, and that sort of thing in place?
[00:18:03] Kathleen: [00:18:03] Yeah. So we’ve got like a minimum of 50% in the office. And then, we have enough seats to have a few extra. So people who do want to come in a bit more have that option. it’s been a bit of a transition. even me personally, cause I had an office and just until two weeks ago and now we’ve transitioned and I’ve.
[00:18:22] Got, uh, I’ve actually, was expecting to be out with everyone, which was, I didn’t have a problem with, but in terms of the seating actually allocated to my team, there’s an office with two seats. So I have a roomie as I call him. It was pretty funny, cause I went to all my team leads and everyone who works with me directly.
[00:18:39] And I said, who wants to be my roomie? And that will look looking at me. like, I don’t think anyone wants to be my roomie.
[00:18:47] Mel or Dom: [00:18:47] what are your thoughts on the future of engineering?
[00:18:52] Kathleen: [00:18:52] Okay. Right. I’ll focus back on aircraft and that area. so I worked on a UAV when I was in the US it was a military,
[00:19:01]Mel or Dom: [00:19:01] UAV
[00:19:01] Kathleen: [00:19:01] sorry, Unmanned Air Vehicle. So, I worked on navigation systems when I was with Honeywell and we did a competition or bid as part of a proposal for, it was interesting. There was Northrop, Grumman and a Boeing contender. Anyway, I was on the Northrop team and we ended up, we collectively won one, to take this, aircraft and try and land it autonomously on an aircraft carrier.
[00:19:23] So it’s like one of the trickiest things to do. So it was, it was a really good engineering challenge, but I was just thinking about UAV’s in general. And you know, that was back in 2010. we left and they were doing, low speed taxi testing. And then I went, ended up going and landing on the aircraft carrier in 2012 to 2013.
[00:19:42] So it was a lot of buildup to get to that point because the Navy are like… we don’t want some unmanned air vehicle coming at us and taking out the tower on the aircraft carrier or anything like that. So there was a lot of safety case, a lot of maths behind it to prove the concept, the by simulations, et cetera.
[00:19:57] So anyway, but I guess coming back to Australia and you can see it’s growing and it’s a lot more crazy now out there. in terms of, everyone can pretty much have a drone if they want and run around and fly wherever they want. And spy on your neighbours, I guess, or get packages delivered. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s gone ballistic, so I know there’s regulations in place, but I guess that’s the stuff that I think, Oh my gosh, you know, It’s great. It’s just about making sure we’ve got the right controls in place, I guess, to keep it under wraps because even a girl at work told me how a drone crashed into a car the other day. And it’s just like, what do I do with it? They didn’t come and claim it, but you know what I mean?
[00:20:35] She’s like, what do you do with it? And you take it to the police station, you know, it’s. it’s I guess, first world issues now, it’s becoming a more common thing. So I guess I see that, that technology more so, and, you know, obviously our defense forces are looking at how can they use that sort of capability and protect people.
[00:20:53] And that was the whole concept is you don’t have to have a pilot in the loop. you can be sitting back in your lounge now working from home.
[00:21:03] Mel or Dom: [00:21:03] and those things aren’t easy to fly either. So it’s pretty dangerous if you just sort of hand over the controls to someone for a first go and they’re, if they’re not somewhere where they’ve got loads of space to make it, I’ve honestly, I’m looking down next to us right now. I’ve got my drone experience in the box and I was flying in the backyard.
[00:21:22] I’m like, this is not gonna end. Well, it was almost on the roof once. The neighbors almost put it into the pool because I’m like, I’m just going to pack that up until I can take it down to the park and learn how to use this thing, because it is, it is quite tricky, but I can definitely see how that autonomous vehicle be it on the ground or in the air is definitely going to be the next level I reckon. or I, I suppose, like, you know, the car replaced the horse and the autonomous replace, the, the current car, like it’s a stepping stone perhaps.
[00:21:59] Kathleen: [00:21:59] Yes, I think, they did a trial, where they actually took off the plane and it went and landed. No, it could be, it wasn’t carrying passengers, but it was like a commercial airline can, they’ve proven that they can do it. and people have joked about that in the past, you only really have a pilot in the cockpit for people’s confidence, you know, so that they feel comfortable that there’s someone in there and you know, it’s interesting cause maybe perceptions will change over time and people will feel comfortable. Without a pilot in the loop, but I don’t know if I necessarily would as a passenger.
[00:22:30] Mel or Dom: [00:22:30] As a passenger. And that’s a good point. Cause I have, I have actually heard FedEx and I don’t know if it was FedEx, but those kinds of companies that send parcels and stuff, they have autonomous airplanes in use and they’re like, they’re weird looking things as well. Like they’re not. They, I think they look quite different from memory
[00:22:51] Kathleen: [00:22:51] I mean, I’ve got confidence in the systems and stuff. It’s just, it’s probably expected that, that confidence, if something went wrong is, you know, have you got the support? And I mean, that’s something that when we did do even just the low speed taxi testing, it was engineers for every system.
[00:23:06] So like I was for the navigation, there was the fuel, the hydraulics. Every system had a dedicated engineer watching screens, monitoring what was going on. And then you had the pilot, as well.
[00:23:16] Mel or Dom: [00:23:16] With all these changes that are coming up, what would you say to people who are just starting out in engineering?
[00:23:21]Kathleen: [00:23:21] I think it’s important to think about the whole picture. So I guess if you’re at its start, were you haven’t actually specialized yet. Think about things like, what is it that you actually want to work on? Is it like a particular industry or particular technology? Is there a specific product? when I was in, the States and I got a job with Honeywell, I could have actually worked on the space shuttle health management computer.
[00:23:42]Which would be very cool, but I also had a, another job on the table, which was actually the, the people who first got me down there, which was working in the navigation business, and the defense side of the house. And then that led me down the path of working on, The UAV to the unmanned air vehicle for Northrop Grumman, which was the X 47 B, which was the first aircraft to land autonomously on an aircraft carrier.
[00:24:06] So the technical challenges with that and the opportunities I got with that were amazing. sometimes I sit here and when I tell my kids that could have worked on the space shuttle, they’re like, really?
[00:24:18] Mel or Dom: [00:24:18] Yeah.
[00:24:19] Kathleen: [00:24:19] It’s like, maybe they think I’m a little crazy, but anyway,
[00:24:22] Mel or Dom: [00:24:22] Well, no, I like what you’re saying is like, don’t follow the, the, the shiny new thing. have a clear picture in your head about what the big picture is, and try not to be distracted by the shiny things on the side, that sound cool. But at the end of the day may not actually get you where you want to go.
[00:24:39] Now just to wrap up, is there a piece of engineering that’s impressed you?
[00:24:44] Kathleen: [00:24:44] Uh, I got quite a few, but I’m going to try and narrow it down. So I think what I found was like going back to when I did my thesis uni, we were looking at mobile phone, what they call a handover In the cell technology, like in the cell networks and how to make it more reliable and stuff like that.
[00:25:02] So it’s just amazing, some of the stuff I was not that I was, you know, the founder of mobile phones or anything like that, but just some of the stuff that we were like, Oh, this would be a challenge. And you know, now it’s just a, non-issue in the, you know, like I was talking about like, how cool would it be if you could be on a boat in the Whitsundays.
[00:25:16] Cause that was what I was about to do the following week after I handed my thesis in and you could be on your mobile phone talking to your family Back on the mainland or whatever. And, you know, that’s just a no brainer now. And then I guess, you know, the advent with GPS and how cool, you know, everyone’s got it now on their phones and you know, how, just how widely accessible and how things have moved in such a great pace.
[00:25:37]you know, when I was first exposed to GPS was when my dad got one for his boat back in 92. And even then it was still new, but, you know, I didn’t think at that time, I’d be integrating a 24 channel GPS receiver for the military into an inertial navigation system. Never crossed my mind. So, you know, that was pretty cool to be involved in stuff like that.
[00:25:55] Mel or Dom: [00:25:55] And do you have an engineer that you admire?
[00:25:58] Kathleen: [00:25:58] So, it’s interesting. I’ve obviously worked because a lot of really smart people on the way. So there’s been people that I’ve admired along the way, but I guess it was interesting. I kind of reflected on other people past who are known as not necessarily alive anymore. And one that really stuck with me Grace Murray Hopper, she is the first female mathematician to receive a PhD from Yale.
[00:26:22] Yeah. But what I found really interesting about her work, in terms of computers. so the term, I don’t know if you guys know this, but I found it really interesting is, she joined the military and she was released from active duty to work with Harvard. And, she was working in their lab on these Mark 2 and Mark 3 computers.
[00:26:39] Anyway, while she was there, she found a moth causing problems inside the Mark 2. And that’s where computer bug came from.
[00:26:48]Mel or Dom: [00:26:48] Yeah.
[00:26:49] Kathleen: [00:26:49] So it’s, it’s dorky, but it’s funny. So I was just like, wow, you know, she’s done some amazing things, but you know, he’s like a legacy living on because everyone talks about computer bugs.
[00:26:58] Like I, my, my husband’s software engineering, he talks about, Oh, no, the bug here, you know, it’s just, it’s, you know, it’s pretty cool that something you come up with, like that it just becomes daily term that’s used. Um, so.
[00:27:10] Mel or Dom: [00:27:10] The first computer bug really was a bug.
[00:27:14] Kathleen: [00:27:14] Sorry. I just thought that was exactly.
[00:27:17] Mel or Dom: [00:27:17] Well, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you so much.
[00:27:21] Kathleen: [00:27:21] Thank you very much for having me. It’s been great to have a chat to you about all these cool things.
I’d like to thank everyone for listening to another great episode of Engineering Heroes as we present the new dawn of engineering challenges for Engineers Australia. your hosts have been Melanie and Dominic De Gioia. You can view this episode show notes or learn more from our podcast by visiting our website, www.EngineeringHeroes.com.au
If you enjoyed today’s show, all we ask you to do is go and tell someone, tell lots of people either in personal or write review, it’s that easy to show your support for engineers everywhere. We look forward to you joining us next week when we bring you another interview with one of our engineering champions.