“I hope we can keep changing stereotypes from a young age. When you ask a kindy kid to draw an engineer, they'll typically draw a male.”
At the beginning of Liz’s career, she faced many challenges as a female engineer. Today, Liz leads a team of engineers on the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) program. With the field full of opportunities, Liz hopes to encourage the future female generation to persist with a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
“At the start I did find it challenging. I was one of very few females. This just made me more competitive,” says Liz.
“I think it's changed a lot now. We're really starting to understand that diversity creates different voices. You need people from different walks of life to be able to come up with new ideas and ways of thinking.”
JORN is a network of three remote OTHR radars located across Australia. Providing wide area surveillance at ranges of up to 3000 km, JORN plays a vital role in supporting the ADF’s air and maritime operations, border protection, disaster relief and more.
Liz is the lead for the JORN surveillance software team.
“JORN is special because it uses the ionosphere to bounce signals and reach targets that are much further away than what traditional line of sight radar can detect.
It’s really important. It gives us a sovereign surveillance capability to monitor what's going on around us and keep us safe.”
“In my team, we develop all the software that interacts with the hardware at our three sites. We also develop what's known as human machine interfaces (HMIs). They help our technicians at the radar sites to test, maintain and control the hardware. They also interface with other HMIs that the RAAF personnel use to operate the radars.”
“Phase 6 is a really exciting period of the project to work on as it’s a massive architectural upgrade that will extend JORN’s operational life beyond 2042. The scale and breadth of what we are working on in software is huge and there is a niche for everyone whether it be in signal processing, calibration, HMI development or testing.”
“To me, it has to be just as much about the people as the project. We spend so much time at work there has to be fun and in our team there is plenty of that whether it be the team coffees we go for in the morning, banter around a lunch time board game or flexibility in work-life balance. We genuinely care for and look out for one another and I’m really proud of the people we are and technical achievements we are making.”
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What to learn more about JORN? Listen to this podcast episode where we travel to remote Australia to meet the people behind this home-grown technology and discover why JORN is the jewel in Australia’s defence crown.