Ruth Cowan

Systems Engineer

Ruth Cowan

What did you study at school?

I finished secondary school in 2014, at St. Joseph’s Academy in Kilmarnock. I left with five Highers (in English, Maths, Chemistry, Physics and History) and two advanced Highers (Maths and Physics).


Why did you think an apprenticeship was the right path for your career development?

Apprenticeships allow you to gain work experience and build knowledge of how a company or business run. You don’t get hands on experience in a classroom or lecture theatre environment, and you don’t develop the skills until you are actually in the work place. I have been in school since I was five, and the prospect of staying on, for four plus years of further education, just wasn’t appealing. I was eager to have some new experiences and to learn by doing, instead of reading about it, and basing everything off of the theory.


What attracted you to the Leonardo apprenticeship scheme?

I have always been interested in engineering and understanding more about how things work. I enjoyed maths, which probably led to my interest in physics, as well as my involvement in a few STEM projects while at school. One of my physics teachers was always encouraging his pupils to pursue careers in engineering. He told us all about Leonardo, this multinational company that made radar and lasers with brilliant equipment, using high level physics as part of their day-to-day work. I was intrigued, so I looked into the apprenticeship and graduate programmes and applied…and here I am now.


What is your current position in Leonardo?

I have been with the company since September 2014, attending college and induction processes until recently. I am currently in Systems Engineering and have been working on various different projects.


Tell us about a typical week?

I am a few months into my first placement and there is yet to be a dull moment. I’ve been attending meetings, training courses and going around talking to and learning from the people in the department. It is really helpful to understand more about what everyone does and what they are working on. I have had no previous experience in any engineering role, so it is all a learning experience. I feel like I am, can and will be able to understand more and more the longer I am here, by asking questions.


What do you like most about your job?

In the little time I have spent properly in the company, I have to say I really like how willing everyone is to help me understand their roles. They are more than happy to explain things to me and answer my questions. They are so enthusiastic about what their work and because they find it so interesting, they find joy in talking about it, whether it is pride in their work, or interest in how a big picture comes together.


Best moment/biggest achievement as a Leonardo Apprentice?

I am right at the start of my career with Leonardo and my best moment so far would have to be getting the job itself. There were so many people applying for positions, and so few spaces, I thought it would be extremely hard to be successful. When I was told I had been accepted, I will never forget the sense of pride, and accomplishment.


What do you hope to do next?

I want to successfully get through this four year apprenticeship, and come out the other end with a job in a department best suited to my abilities. I hope to get a good pass in my Graded Unit and my other exams at college and I would like to keep getting involved in events like the Rampaging Chariots at the Edinburgh Science Festival and the Quadcopter Dragon’s Den Event.


Why should aspiring engineers consider an Apprenticeship at Leonardo?

Leonardo is a brilliant company with an excellent international reputation. It is full of intelligent, enthusiastic people who have a passion for what they do. The company looks after its employees, and gives everyone a chance to expand their horizons, knowledge and field of expertise.