Dr. Sophie Robinson
Senior Flight Dynamics Engineer at Vertical Aerospace
- Engineering, Science & Technology
Describe your usual work environment:
Our office is a fusion of a traditional-looking office space, where we have lots of desks, computers and meeting rooms, and a workshop space packed with a lot of cool stuff - our test rigs, a flight simulator and our prototype aircraft.
It's very modern with a white and black colour scheme, but has lots of nice touches - like a whole jungle's worth of plants and a big communal kitchen where we all get together and enjoy breakfast and coffee breaks with our colleagues. Oh, and a table tennis table, which is essential for morale!
Please provide a brief description of your job:
I lead a small team of engineers to deliver and develop key technologies to enable our aircraft to fly. As a team, we're responsible for the flight control laws (the brain of the aircraft), the flight simulator and the performance of the aircraft. We spend lots of time building models and doing calculations to understand how the aircraft will behave when we fly it.
What made you decide to pursue your chosen career path?
I was always really interested in maths and science when I was growing up, and wanted to apply that interest to changing the world - becoming an engineer seemed like the obvious way to do that!
What are the three key skills that are required for your job?
Communication - you have to be able to make your ideas understood to your colleagues in a way which is clear and concise - sometimes the problems we're trying to solve can be very complex, so this is really important.
You also have to be good at organising and planning your work - a really key thing to make sure you are delivering what you need to deliver on time.
I'd also say you need to be really creative and able to think outside the box - the type of projects we're working on in the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) area often don't have obvious or easy solutions, so you have to be able to 'think outside the box', or maybe there are several solutions that might work - so you have to be able to work out which is best.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about your job?
That it's only for boys - girls are brilliant engineers too!
What advice would you give to a school student who is interested in pursuing a career similar to yours?
Do it! Engineering is a challenging and rewarding field in equal measure - it's never boring. Work hard to get a solid understanding of the maths and science that underpins the way our world works, but also don't neglect creative pursuits as they both go hand in hand in engineering.
Take every opportunity you can to experience the breadth of opportunities in the engineering field too - even if you aren't interested in pursuing a career in a certain area, gaining an appreciation of what other engineers do is really useful. And be resilient - don't give up the first time you face a setback!
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
I'd rid the world of inequality - in all forms! (And I'd make corporations and billionaires pay their fair share of taxes, which is linked to the issues around inequality).
Dr. Sophie Robinson