Engineering to protect those who serve our country
Alumna Heidi Ross
As an engineer with Australian shipbuilder ASC, alumna Heidi Ross enjoys the complexity of major maritime projects. But what really motivates her is the critical impact of her work on the lives of the Navy men and women who serve our country.
Throughout school Heidi loved competing in the World Solar Challenge, but it wasn’t until she visited the University of Adelaide that she learned her passion for making things could be channelled into a career in engineering.
“I didn’t know what engineering was until Year 11. It was at the University open day where I listened to a talk about engineering that I found what I wanted to do,” says Heidi.
Heidi studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mechanical) at the University and during her studies completed a placement at ASC.
She then joined ASC’s two-year graduate program where she rotated through a number of departments and learnt about the many complex systems in naval submarines and ships.
“ASC has many departments for different engineering specialisations: from noise and vibration to structural engineering, to production support or electrical engineering, so there are lots of different opportunities for graduates,” says Heidi.
“I really enjoyed the ability to move around and see different aspects of the company and experience different types of work.”
At the completion of the program, Heidi secured a position with ASC on the Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance Program in the technical department, where she focused on the systems engineering and technical integrity of marine systems.
Heidi has been with ASC since 2007 and during that time has worked on major projects, including submarine maintenance and the Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) project.
In her current role as System Safety Lead Engineer, she helps ensure the safety and integrity of equipment supplied to the Navy.
“People sometimes think systems safety is about making sure people wear hard hats and fluoro vests, but it’s actually making sure that the products we deliver are safe for people to use, so it’s equivalent to making sure your car has seat belts and airbags,” says Heidi.
“I look at the design of products from a holistic system perspective which requires me to have a very good understanding of how all the systems interact and connect – it’s a different aspect of engineering.”
It’s the technical detail of the projects and working on things that have a critical impact on people’s lives that provides Heidi with a great amount of satisfaction.
“One of my favourite things about working for defence is that I love serving the people who serve our country – the people in defence who protect those in need and look after Australia’s security interests.”
“They do such an important job and sacrifice so much for us, so being able to support them with good quality equipment... that really motivates me.”
ASC is Australia’s largest specialised defence shipbuilding and submarine platform organisation, with more than 2500 employees across three facilities in South Australia and Western Australia, including more than 380 engineering and technical specialists.
The University of Adelaide’s Masters of Marine Engineering course was co-developed by ASC, who are also involved in its delivery.
Story by Kelly Brown
Photo by ASC