Sophie Hutchins

Antenna Engineer

Sophie Hutchins

When did you join Leonardo?

I joined the company in September 2013, having graduated that year from Durham University with a Master’s Degree in physics. When I joined, I entered the Test Solutions function, which saw me defining the tests our equipment would have to pass in order to be delivered to a customer. This also involved defining the hardware required to carry out these tests. After working in this function for eight months, I decided to try out an engineering role that is more rooted in physics, given my degree background, so I moved to the Antenna function.


What are your main tasks as an Antenna Engineer?

As an antenna engineer, I am involved in the design and simulation of new and novel antennas, as part of the company’s research and development programme. I am also involved in the design of the passive microwave circuitry which we use to feed voltage to our antennas.


Tell us about your typical day?

Day-to-day, I use a combination of software packages to model our antennas and the knowledge I gained from my physics degree to understand the problems involved with this. On a typical day, I may also do some work in our microwave lab or the anechoic chambers testing prototype PCBs and antennas.


What related activities are you involved with outside your specific job role?

Most days I will also spend some time talking to teachers at our partner schools, as part of my role as a STEM ambassador. This involves working with local schools to raise the profile of science and engineering in schools, and ultimately get more young people taking up STEM subjects at A-Level and University. It’s great to be a part of getting young people interested in STEM; I love seeing it when they have a ‘Eureka!’ moment and really start getting excited about how the world around them works.


This role also sees me designing new projects and challenges we can give to the students at our partner schools, to start to get them interested in STEM. Most weeks I will be putting small circuits together to teach the students.


I am also part of the Younger Members Board of the Women's Engineering Society. Our aim is to represent the younger females either looking to get into engineering or at an early stage of their careers. This also includes informing girls at school about the opportunities that engineering can hold for them. My role on the board is focussed on our communications, which encompasses our social media such as Twitter. I ensure that we are communicating with the girls and young women who need our help and support to get into enginering and also to stay in the field.


What do you enjoy about working at Leonardo?

I’ve found that Leonardo invests a lot of time and money into their new graduates. There are so many opportunities in the business to broaden your skill set while you’re on the graduate scheme and afterwards too.


Leonardo is also a really friendly company – there is no question that is too stupid to ask here. In fact, asking the stupid questions is encouraged because that’s how you learn and prevent small mistakes turning into big ones.


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