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BAE Systems Australia

  • #1 in Defence & aerospace
  • 50,000 - 100,000 employees


There’s no better feeling than being given a complicated task and you can go away, work on it, and then come back with a working model that passes all the tests. I always liken it to solving puzzles, every task has a solution and my role is to simply find it.

What's your job about? 

BAE is a large defence company within Australia working with the Australian government delivering various projects to help the military. I’m currently working in the Autonomy department, where we are developing new technologies for autonomous vehicles. As a mechatronic engineer (we’re referred to as algorithm engineers in house) I utilise things such as modelling, coding, and simulation to develop new platforms. It can get quite complicated sometimes, so we have a lot of collaboration both within our specific teams and also across the teams to ensure everything works well together.

What's your background? 

I’m from outback South Australia, growing up in a small mining town before attending high school in Port Pirie, SA. At University, I studied a double degree in Mechatronic Engineering and Applied Mathematics. I tried traveling as much as possible during my university time so completed an exchange overseas in Montreal, a study tour to Cambodia, 3 Uni Games appearances for hockey, 2 ski trips, and finished off with a 6-month internship in France as part of my honours project. Not bad eh?

After my undergrad, I took some time away from engineering and ended up being a tour guide in Europe. I would travel across 15 different countries giving out fun facts and ensuring everyone had a fantastic trip. After this, I found myself back in Canada working at a ski hill in Banff, Alberta. Until that pesky spicy cough hit.

With covid forcing myself back home I found it hard to get right back into engineering and not many places hiring due to the pandemic. I took this as an opportunity to upskill, and after seeing jobs, I really wanted to ask for skills I never learned in my undergrad, so I decided to pursue my Masters in Robotics. This was a great decision, and because of my prior study, the course was just over a yearlong (and I could do it online due to the pandemic, which really suited me).

I studied while also working as a bar manager, a tutor for UNSW, and as a junior engineer for a robotics start-up. It was during this time that I interviewed with BAE and was accepted into their graduate program post graduating. This meant moving from Adelaide to Melbourne. I’ve now been here (and in this job) for 6 months and I love it!

Could someone with a different background do your job? 

Yes and no. Someone with experience with technology and computers could definitely learn over time how to complete the work. Coding experience is an absolute necessity so there’s no way around that one, unfortunately. But I don’t think you’re background needs to be exactly robotics. Lots of people I work with come from different areas of STEM and now all work together. Mechanical, aerospace, maths, physics, comp sci… my boss was even a pilot for a little while. I’d argue these are all quite different backgrounds but still share some of the necessary knowledge.

Having experiences outside of just the work knowledge is also extremely important though. Being able to collaborate and work well within a team is probably the most skill. So having an eclectic mix of people from various backgrounds outside of university makes for a great place to work.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

Getting to work on developing technologies from start to finish has to be the greatest highlight. I’m getting to work on things like autonomous vehicles which is exactly what I dreamed of working on when I first entered University. 

The learning curve is certainly steep, and it can sometimes feel like you’ve been chucked into the deep end without floaties, but all the seniors at work are lovely people (and are extremely intelligent) so help is never too far away if you need it. 

There’s no better feeling than being given a complicated task and you can go away, work on it, and then come back with a working model that passes all the tests. I always liken it to solving puzzles, every task has a solution and my role is to simply find it. And I love puzzles so it’s awesome.

What are the limitations of your job? 

Working with mainly computers has its downside, when things stop working on your computer it can take a while to fix, and you feel useless just sitting around not being able to continue with your work. Similarly, it’s quite easy to become blocked on a task as you wait for someone else to complete theirs so you can continue on. One of the downsides of working in large teams with many people working in different areas. Usually, it’s not too bad, as everyone completes their work fairly quickly and accurately. 

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Study well and study hard, but also say yes to absolutely every opportunity you can while at university. In ten years’ time, you’re going to remember the days you spent on exchange, or in the middle of a ski hill far more than you’re going to remember staying home and not venturing outside your safety zone. See the world, say yes.
  • Organise your time. If you want to listen to my advice in 1, you need to have your time under control. It can get extremely hard to be organised at uni when you have 4 subjects, part-time work, uni clubs, plus a social life to balance (and you also need some ‘me’ time!). Get good at being organised and managing your time and you can have the best of both worlds (study/work/social). Try and not take too much on though, otherwise, you’ll burn yourself out.
  • Learn and understand what kind of study works best for you. I struggled through my first few years of uni as I felt I had to attend every lecture. Sitting in a room full of hundreds of people for 2 hours was just so boring to me. I found my grades improved drastically when I would watch lectures in my own time but attend all the tutorials/workshops/labs. Just ensure you do actually make time to watch lectures (see 2).