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Jacobs - Women in Engineering Q&A with Stacey Somerville

Category: International Women in Engineering Day, STEAM, Women in Engineering, Jacobs’ STEAM Strategy, #OurJacobs women, #OurJacobs, Women in STEAM

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In the lead-up to International Women in Engineering Day on June 23, we spoke to Stacey Somerville, an engineer delivering solutions for our clients in Australia.

Stacey Sommerville and her baby

As a Space Sustainment Systems Engineer, Stacey joined our team two years ago and is based in Adelaide, Australia. Stacey is a member of the growing Critical Mission Solutions team in the Asia-Pacific region.

Let's talk with Stacey:

Tell us what you’re working on these days.

I am the Engineering Function Lead in our client’s Space Systems Sustainment Team. This means providing engineering guidance, mentoring and support to the space capability leads, assisting in establishing the space enterprise and helping to establish the space enterprise configuration control board. The systems I work with most are the C-Band radar and space surveillance telescope.

What does engineering mean to you?

To me, engineering is a very rewarding career with lots of opportunities and interesting things to work on. During my career, I have worked on aircraft simulators for the Classic Hornet, Super Hornet and Poseidon aircraft. I have also worked on the Airborne Early Warning and Control Wedgetail aircraft, Australian Defence Air Traffic System Radars, Jindalee Over the Horizon Radar, ANZAC Ship C2 system, Helicopter Aircrew Training System and more. Each job has been very different and has provided me with a range of opportunities to grow and learn as an engineer.

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEAM?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I finished high school. I was accepted into a nursing degree at university but I wasn’t sure that was what I wanted to do. I took a year off study and worked as a research assistant. During that time, I got to see what the final year engineering students were doing for their projects and it looked really interesting. By this time, I was pretty sure that nursing was not for me, so I applied for a double degree in Computer Systems Engineering and Operations and Logistics Management.

What do you like and dislike about engineering?

I like the variety of work and the unique challenges of each project, the flexibility to work part-time and to work from home when required. I also like that I get to work with a range of interesting people in fields other than engineering. These days I prefer to have less work-related travel. I used to do a lot of overseas and domestic travel for work. While that was fun and exciting, these days I have a young family and it gets harder to balance being away for extended periods of time. I work on platforms that are located in remote areas, so travel to those locations and to Canberra is required. While I enjoy seeing new places it is always nice to be home.

What are the key challenges to being a woman in the male-dominated engineering industry?

Thankfully there are a lot more women in engineering and STEAM fields now. For a long time, I had to get used to being the only woman in the room, which can be a bit intimidating. I also had to deal with people who would try to talk over me or disregard what I had to say because they thought women didn’t belong in engineering. There has been a big shift in the attitudes and demographics within engineering in the last seven or so years and that sort of behavior is not tolerated anywhere near as much now.

What would you say to young women considering a career in engineering?

Find something you are passionate about and don’t be afraid to try something new. Every job comes with a steep learning curve, but don’t let that put you off trying a new role. There are also opportunities for travel. I grew up in Adelaide and through my jobs in engineering, I have been able to move around Australia and experience living and working in different towns and states. I have lived in Brisbane, Newcastle, Nowra and am back in Adelaide now. I have also had the opportunity to travel to Japan and the United States through my engineering studies and work.

For further information on Jacobs’ Equity, Diversity and Inclusion programme and initiatives please click here.Jacobs Logo

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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