Joanna Kelly

Edinburgh  09 March 2023
Electronics Engineer

Meet Joanna, a Senior Software Engineer based at our Edinburgh site.

What is your current role at Leonardo?

I am a Senior Software Engineer, working on the Raven Radar Control Team.

Why did you decide to join Leonardo?

I’m not originally from Edinburgh, so I wasn’t as aware of Leonardo as other people from the area may have been, but I attended the Rampaging Chariots Robotic Games back in 2016, as an air cadet from 142 (2nd Edinburgh) RAF Air Cadets Squadron. I was studying Computer Science and Electronics at the University of Edinburgh at the time.

After returning to the games the next year, I decided to apply for a summer placement, which I completed in 2017 and again in 2018, before submitting an application for a position on the graduate programme – which was accepted.

Why did you choose a STEM career?

My passion for engineering began at school. I grew up in Yorkshire, and attended Skipton Girls High School, which specialised in the provision of engineering courses; however, I was one of just ten engineering students in the class!

What does a typical day look lie?

I currently work as part of the Raven Radar Software IPT as a software developer and scrum master for the Air-to-Surface Team, which is a cross-functional nine person strong team. As a scrum master each day, I am ensuring that all members of my team are able to continue with their work and are not blocked in any way. Every morning I hold a stand-up meeting to catch up with all the team members and get updates on their progress. This role also involves going along to our Agile Release Train meetings to update the management team on task progress, ensuring that we are completing everything for software releases.

Alongside this, I am also a software developer on the team. The development work we do ranges daily from new implementation to small bug fixes. Depending on which point we are at in the software release cycle, my day could be spent sat at my desk working out a new software design for a new feature, using the development lab to run my software on a real RPU unit as testing. Alternatively, I could be fixing snags before a release, analysing data and running it through unit tests to debug a problem.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

As a graduate, one of the massive benefits of joining the programme was feeling connected to a wider community. During the pandemic, I was classified as a key worker and so was still able to come on site every day – it was essential for my role as part of the Raven Radar team. This was also good for me as I lived alone, so it was really important for me just to see my team in the office.

In my current role, I enjoy the wide range of tasks we get to do. As the radar control team, our software covers decoding the commands coming in from the pilot and converting that into scheduling the correct hardware commands for the exciter and the antenna. We are then also involved in receiving the radar data and sending it to the various aspects of the software for processing. Our software model is extremely large and this means that each day is different.

Besides my day-to-day responsibilities, I also enjoy promoting STEM in the community. During my time at Leonardo, I have worked on a several STEM outreach initiatives, such as the EDT Gold and Bronze Industrial Cadets programme, careers talks at local schools, and a glider building activity for International Women in Engineering Day at Forthview Primary School.  

I’m always keen to raise awareness of the stimulation and enrichment that can be found in engineering, and the value of STEM activities, since taking part in them played a central role in my own career path.

What have been your biggest achievements at Leonardo so far?

One of my proudest career highlights came in February 2023, when it was announced that I had been nominated for the ‘Rising Star’ prize at the FDM Everywoman in Technology awards. The nomination was for both my work at Leonardo and my efforts in promoting STEM in the community.

What are your career aspirations?

My main career aspiration is that I am hoping to become a chartered engineer with the Institute of Engineering and Technology. As a company, Leonardo has provided me with a chartership mentor to guide me through this process.

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.