Sophie Harker

BAE Systems Graduate Scheme


Designed for Life podcast brought to you by The Design and Technology Association in partnership with The Edge Foundation and PTC Onshape. Listen here

What happens when on a family holiday to California, you pop into the Kennedy Space Centre as a sixteen-year-old and there and then decide that you want to go to space?

In Sophie Harker's case, you come back and get your head down to achieving academically what you are capable of. A love of Mathematics led to a Masters Degree course at Nottingham, where she met the first British astronaut, Helen Sharman. In conversation, Sophie was advised that engineering is the best pathway to space. And the rest is pretty much history. 

Sophie joined the BAE Systems Graduate Scheme, consisting of four engineering placements across various platforms and products, including the Eurofighter Typhoon. Sophie is currently embedded in the Team Tempest project working on advanced technologies for flight control systems. 

Sophie is one of the youngest engineers to have achieved chartered status at the age of only 25. In 2016 she became the BAE Systems Technical Graduate of the Year; SEMTA made her their Graduate of the year in 2017; in the same year, she was featured in the Daily Telegraphs Top 50 Women in Engineering. In 2018 Sophie was awarded the Bee Beaumont Award - Awarded to 'newly qualified engineers who have made an outstanding contribution to the business in the early stages of their career'. Also, in 2018, Sophie won the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year and more recently was awarded the Sir Henry Royce Medal, which recognises her research in developing future technologies for the aviation history.  

By Sophie's own admission, she did not set out on a mission to win these awards; in fact, when I mentioned them on the podcast, she was slightly embarrassed; these awards sprung from a career doing something that she loves to the very best of her ability. 

This podcast was an absolute joy to record. I am generally not a gambling man, and as Sophie points out, the odds of getting to space are stacked against her, yet I would have a few sneaky pounds on Sophie Harker following the same footsteps trod by a certain Helen Sharman. Sit back, pour a drink and be inspired. Designed for Life - In conversation with Sophie Harker.

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