Anna Hart

Edinburgh  25 February 2022
Electronics Engineer

Meet Anna, a multi award-winning Electronics Engineer in Edinburgh, who joined Leonardo as a graduate in 2019. She was named as one of Electronics Weekly's BrightSparks in March 2020, and subsequently won the 'Rising Star' category at the 2022 WorldSkills UK Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Heroes Awards.

Why did you join Leonardo?

Throughout my time at school, I developed a keen interest for maths and physics. I enjoyed being taught about the real-life applications of scientific principles and this sparked my interest in pursuing engineering as a career. I studied Electronics and Electrical Engineering at university, and during my final year I was on the lookout for a graduate scheme to kick-start my career. I had friends on my university course who had undertaken summer placements at Leonardo and spoke highly of the people, the benefits and the company as a whole. From researching Leonardo and finding out about all of their innovative and advanced products, as well as their state-of-the-art facilities, I knew this was a company I wanted to work for (and I have definitely not been disappointed!).

Tell us what you do in a typical day

I currently work in the antenna team within the radar division at the Edinburgh site. I am working on a project alongside principal and lead engineers to redesign a current radar product, and experiencing the sharp end of a commercial electronic development environment for the first time. I work daily with electro-magnetic simulation models to optimise various parameters of the antenna design. This ranges from the dimensions of the radiating element to the thickness of the materials used and I investigate how they all influence the performance of the antenna itself. We are working towards an improved design that meets revised requirements.

I have the opportunity to work with other teams outside the antenna group too, such as mechanical and systems engineers. I am constantly updating models to ensure that they meet all the requirements: from the mechanical aspects of the design to the performance, always making sure it is acceptable for the customer. Being able to see antenna testing in the Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR) is always interesting, as well as beneficial to my understanding.

I am also the graduate representative for first years in Edinburgh and a STEM ambassador for Leonardo. One day I may be attending graduate forums with the other site reps to discuss upcoming training modules and the next helping to organise and run STEM events with schools, other companies or universities. Last year, I put together a booklet of STEM-related activities and challenges for budding engineers to take part in at home. This ‘STEM Survival Kit’ was released in Summer 2021, in time for the school holidays, and is available to download here.

Alongside my STEM team, I have reached out to universities across Scotland to hold panel sessions with women in STEM societies and female Leonardo employees to further support the drive towards a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

What have been your best moments / biggest achievements so far?

At the 2022 WorldSkills UK Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Heroes Awards, I was extremely proud to win the Rising Star category. The award celebrates individuals championing inclusion and diversity within business, something that I am delighted to work towards.

I was delighted to be named as a member of the WES (Women’s Engineering Society) Early Careers Board, which was formally announced on International Day of Women in Engineering 2021! In my role, I work with the board to achieve their aim of helping girls and women find a way into engineering, and support them throughout their careers. One of the main projects I work on is the Lottie tour, and the team is so excited to see how much of an impact we can make with engineers around the world.

In March 2020, within the first six months on the graduate scheme, I was selected as one of the winners of the Electronics Weekly BrightSparks award, which ‘recognises the talent of some of the brightest young electronics engineers working in the UK today’. This was a huge honour and I hope that my selection for this award will encourage others to put themselves forward.

One of the most rewarding STEM volunteering projects I have been involved in was designing, developing and delivering a STEM project from scratch for Primary 7 classes at a local inner-city primary school. I worked collaboratively with three other graduates to produce a five-week space-themed programme that we delivered at weekly lessons. Seeing the children becoming excited about science was amazing. They especially loved the finale of a bottle rocket launch in the playground with their brave teddy ‘astronauts’ strapped to the bottles disappearing into the vastness of ‘space’!

I have also helped out with the EDT Go4Set initiative to raise awareness of STEM opportunities by inspiring pupils in their early secondary high school years to experience an industry-based project. As a mentor, together with two other Leonardo graduates, I helped a group of six pupils and their teacher on a ten-week project that they chose from the Go4Set project choices – ‘smart technology’. I offered advice on project management, technology and report writing. Seeing their finished prototype and their confidence presenting in front of the judges was a great moment for us.

Being involved with STEM activities and encouraging future engineers is so worthwhile, and I hope to carry on taking part in them throughout my career.

What did life on the Graduate Programme entail?

The graduate scheme enabled me to be involved in real-life engineering projects in a team while attending training modules with my fellow graduates. This ranged from awareness sessions to learning about all the different departments and roles at Leonardo, such as manufacturing, hardware, software, quality and so many more.

You meet other graduates from different sites and have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills learned through various training activities. In addition, modules for public speaking and finance help to enhance your business skills.

During the second year of the programme, you have the opportunity to meet your fellow Italian graduates either in the UK or in Italy. At the end of the scheme, at the graduate conference, a final project that you have worked on with your fellow graduates is presented, bringing together everything you have learned and experienced since joining Leonardo.

Throughout the two years, you build relationships and contacts with your fellow graduates and the wider Leonardo community that will provide a firm foundation for support, guidance and advice as you move forward in your career.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working on real-life products, as this enables me to focus on developing the knowledge and skills for innovation. I also enjoy the variety: two days are never the same, and you are always learning from fellow colleagues. I like having real responsibility at such an early stage in my career, and the support that goes with it. I feel valued and very glad that I chose Leonardo.

Graduate Programme

Leonardo's award-winning graduate programme develops promising young graduates into engineers and business professionals of the future, supporting your first steps after leaving university.