What does it mean to be a systems engineer at Leidos?
At the heart of innovation, design, architecture, good engineering practice and all round technological brilliance you will find the Systems Engineer. Thriving on using their technical expertise and passion for technology to design and build innovative systems to meet business needs, our Systems Engineers are critical to the success of systems implementations and, in turn, are key contributors to the success of our business. On International Systems Engineer Day, we spoke with two of our UK colleagues to find out what it means to be a Systems Engineer at Leidos.
Meet Rachel Coote, Senior Lead Systems Engineer
I am a Senior Lead SE (Systems Engineer) at Leidos UK, currently working on the D-SESAR programme (Single European Sky ATM Research) with our client NATS. The programme is focused on developing technologies and procedures for a new generation network system designed to enhance air traffic performance.
As a mum to a two-year-old toddler, life is re-prioritised somewhat now! I currently work three days a week. I find the SE role allows you to work this way quite easily, this can get trickier the more team lead roles you take on, but as I’m surrounded by good deputies it’s definitely not a blocker. Leidos helped me to transition from full-time to part-time working by providing me with the flexibility and support to continue my career journey.
Pre-Covid work-life took place in the office on the customer site, working in a joint team of Leidos and NATS employees. A typical week would involve meetings with the customer, suppliers and team members. As the technical lead responsible for delivering a project, I have a lot of planning meetings, technical reviews and status reports to do as well as sometimes getting to work on technical solutions and writing technical documents. Now it’s a good breakfast followed by the nursery run before I settle down in the home office (also known as the kitchen) to start the workday.
I’ve always been quite mathematical and enjoyed problem solving. At sixth form school I took part in an engineering education scheme which opened my eyes to the world of engineering (we came second in the West Midlands). At University, I completed a degree in Aerospace Engineering and then a Masters in Advanced Manufacturing Systems and Technology.
, Senior Lead Systems Engineer
There were only three women from a group of 50 students on my course, but that did not deter me – I was brought up to believe I could do and be whatever I wanted.
My twenty years at Leidos started after University as a logistics modeller in Portsmouth, undertaking several six-month placements to provide exposure to different areas of the business and a level of unofficial on the job training. This included placements in the Engineering Process Improvement team, Systems Engineering and finally a placement in Cornwall working as a Test Engineer on the training system for the Royal Navy Merlin Helicopter, which included the fun task of actually flying the simulators. As a small team working on a remote site this was great exposure to multiple disciplines and a good grounding for my career in Systems Engineering.
I have been fortunate to work as a Lead Engineer developing part task training systems for the Merlin Capability Sustainment Plus Programme, the Systems Engineering Lead on the UK Census (2011) and as a Transition Manager on the Metropolitan Police Service Command and Control programme.
I love a challenge and creating order out of chaos! As an SE we’re involved from the start to the finish of a project. This helps to bring the big picture, end-to-end view when tackling challenges throughout the project. A key role as an SE is to bring all the constituent parts together and I believe this includes bringing together all the people and resources required to solve problems in order to ensure we have a balanced outcome, not dominated by the perspective of a single discipline.
Two decades have flown by! I’ve had the opportunity to move about and work on different programs, and that has kept me fresh and engaged. I have always felt valued and trusted to take on new challenges and I’ve certainly been provided with many interesting and varied opportunities. Leidos has provided me with training and support to build on my skills, networks and enhance my learning.
Meet Daniel Barber, Systems Engineer
I am a SE at Leidos UK based in our Whiteley Office near Southampton but have been working from home since March due to the pandemic. As the SE Lead on our joint solution with NATS, Intelligent Approach, I am responsible for the technical solution in terms of low-level requirements, assurance, user manuals and training.
I started working for Leidos in the Summer of 2011 on a year-long internship based in our Farnborough office. What a first year - a key highlight was working the Farnborough International Air Show!
Following my degree in Systems Engineering at Loughborough University, I returned to Leidos as a graduate in 2013, working principally in the transportation sector mainly focused on Air Traffic Management systems. I have since worked on a broad range of transportation based projects including being embedded into a customer team at NATS to deliver a major technical improvement in the Scottish airspace.
Another programme I worked on was the Semi Automated Shadowing (SAS) Tool. A bespoke testing tool, which aimed to de-risk the complex transition onto the SESAR compliant architecture by providing the Civil and Military Air Traffic Controllers with a High Fidelity shadowing environment for system validation. My role was to lead, capture and develop the High and Low level requirements for management. This gave me the experience to lead the investigation into the Military use cases/scenarios for tool integration, authoring the finding and further defining the tool’s requirements before presenting an acceptable design to key stakeholders for approval utilising, a Model Based Systems Engineering approach; implementing SYSML using Cameo System Modeller.
An SE helps organisations to get the correct solution first time around, which is particularly important when working with safety related software or solutions. I thrive on helping organisations to find suitable solutions within cost and scheduled limits by de-risking complex bespoke solutions.
Why work for Leidos? As corny as it sounds, its all about the people for me! All my colleagues are friendly, supportive, happy to help and delighted to share knowledge - feels like you are working with friends not colleagues.
, Systems Engineer
I get the opportunity to work on projects that actually make a difference not only to the customer by improving their operations but also the bigger picture like our carbon footprint!
I am also actively involved in our STEM employee resource group as I want young people to have better experiences in making informed career choices. Like many people at school, I was interested in most subjects but mainly Science, Maths, Geography and History and outside of school I was interested in how things worked. I had little in the way of formal career advice; this was mainly left up to me. As it turned out, I was fortunate as my brother was studying Aerospace Engineering and through his internship, he was able to support my educational choices. Through Leidos’ STEM group, we work on initiatives that educate young people about the numerous avenues and possibilities that a career in STEM has to offer.