I have always loved reading and writing and for a time in high school thought I was going to be a journalist. I was so determined that I organised work experience at The Age newspaper. It was fantastic – shadowing reporters out in the field, researching fun facts – I even got a small article published in the Lifestyle section. More importantly, the experience revealed parts of the industry I didn’t like…
I think my Year 11 Chemistry teacher helped grow my love of the sciences. She had previously worked in industry so had a lot of great stories about being a science graduate and work life. I found it so exciting and could see a lot of myself in her.
I ended up studying a double degree in Engineering and Science (Biotechnology) and am now a Composite Research Engineer for Boeing Research and Technology Australia. Maths is behind everything we do, from designing, analysing and building the next generation of carbon fibre aircraft parts and testing new materials to introducing automation (robotics) within the factory and building developmental test articles.
Our 2014 Aviation Weekly cover remains a career highlight. That photo represents four years of hard work by a team of very talented people. Working with Boeing US and Canada we designed, fabricated, assembled and tested a prototype panel which allowed a 20 per cent weight saving. A reduced aircraft weight means less fuel, resulting in a more efficient, greener and environmentally friendly form of transport. It is those moments in life where you realise exactly what you are capable of.
Aerospace and engineering is still very male dominated but it is improving as attitudes change. Every year I see more women around Boeing, and this year we have three female interns. It is great to see more girls sticking with science and maths and coming through university and into the workplace.
Lee Turnley has a double degree in engineering and science (biotechnology) from Swinburne University and is a Composite Research Engineer at Boeing Research and Technology Australia.