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Cliff- Principal Engineering Lead and Head of Profession for Systems Engineering

How long have you worked at AWE?

I joined AWE after graduating from Imperial College London and have worked here for over 25 years.

What does your role involve?

My basic role is to provide technical leadership, usually on behalf of AWE senior management. In my HoP role, I am the ambassador and champion for the systems engineering discipline within AWE, the UK and with international partners. I maintain and develop the relationship with the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), and finally (but probably most importantly) I am responsible for the professional development of systems engineers e.g. towards Chartership.

What is you previous experience? 

Although graduating in physics, I have always worked in the engineering area at AWE. My early role was focussed on developing and using mathematical models for radar cross-section and signature and comparing these with test data. I progressed into technical leadership – and then team and group leadership. More recently, my previous role was Capability Lead for systems engineering, looking after a group of over 100 systems and associate specialist engineers.

What is important about your discipline?

Systems engineering improves the chances of successfully delivering a project, with a strong emphasis on understanding customer needs and delivering a solution that meets these needs. It also provides an approach that manages the increasing complexity of delivering capability through multiple disciplines and a diverse stakeholder community.

Who do you work with?

I work with a broad cross-section of the AWE community, both technical and business areas, working with everyone from graduate level to directors   I also work with colleagues from UK industry and academia through my work with INCOSE and AWE’s outreach partners. I also work with international partners.

What is a typical day like?  

When in the office my days are usually spent either at my computer or (more often) meeting with people both formally and informally. I spend a lot of time building my network and relationships to further the profession and advance the technical activities to which I am contributing. I am involved in mentoring junior staff towards Chartership or informally, to provide an independent contact in the business that they may discuss any questions or issues that may arise. I also spend some time out of the office, travelling to hold discussions with industry and academia. My days are never boring because I have a variety of activities to do and also because AWE has such a large diversity of technical work that needs to be done.

What projects are you working on? 

I have a technical leadership role in a future technologies project. It involves development of capability, both material and junior staff on the project. I am also working hard to promote my profession and forge new links with external partners.

Share your views on the importance of research or STEM  

 Throughout my working life I have always been passionate about AWE’s mission and I am determined to do what I can to ensure our ongoing success. AWE genuinely has unique capabilities that do not exist anywhere else in the UK. The recruitment, retention and development of people is therefore of the utmost importance in delivering our mission. A strong STEM base in the UK is essential to developing our engineers, scientists and leaders of the future. I am proud that AWE recognises and supports this through a number of community activities such as working with local schools and colleges.

What do you think is the biggest global challenge for your discipline?

 INCOSE has done a very good job of outlining the challenges now and into the future in their document ‘A WORLD IN MOTION: Systems Engineering Vision 2025.’ For me personally, I think that recognition of the discipline is vital. Without this, we can’t realise the benefits that systems engineers can bring to our business and our nation.

 

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