Nathan Turner works at BAE Systems. He works as a Warship Signatures Engineer and his work involves using Maths and Physics to help understand and analyse warship design.

Name: Nathan Turner

Job Title: Warship Signatures Engineer

Organisation: BAE Systems

Degree: MMath Mathematics, University of Oxford
A Levels: Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology

Briefly describe the organisation you work for:
BAE Systems design and manufacture advanced defence technology to protect people and protect national security. They design aircraft, warships, land vehicles and also deliver support to the cyber security sector. The company is great to work for and my work is really interesting! I work in the Naval Ships ‘signatures’ team where I’m responsible for designing warships for stealth.

Explain what you do on an average day at work:
Start around 7:30 with a coffee and review emails & plan the day ahead. My time is split between the office and working from home depending on what computer systems I need to use. Around 10am we have a phone call with the team to catch up on progress and ask for any help we need, which is reassuring if something is going wrong! The morning usually consists of some 3D ship modelling or data analysis, which I find it easier to focus on in the morning when I’m more alert. Lunch is always before 12:30. The afternoon is a mixture of technical work and meetings with other people in the project. Flexible working means I can finish the day whenever I like, typically by 4pm giving me time in the evening to do some exercise and relax.

What do you like most about your job?
I love that I get to apply mathematics and physics to problems every day. Ship design also relies on judgement which is where my skills as an engineer come in, and I like solving problems with competing requirements. I can also see the shipyard from the office which means I can watch the ship being built, it makes it feel very real!!

What stimulated your interest in maths, and when?
I loved maths from an early age (Primary School) and was always good at maths. But I got really interested during my A Levels (age 16/17) when I started to explore the applications of maths to the real world. Since then my interest has grown and I still love discovering new ways of applying maths to real world problems.

What influenced your career choice?
From a young age I was interested in cars and bikes, and how they worked. My Dad is a skilled tradesman and he taught me about building things when I was a child. My older brothers had fast cars and always showed me how things worked. When I discovered I could use maths skills in the world of engineering, that really ignited my passion for designing things. I have since worked on designing jet engines and warships and continue to find ways to use maths in my career.

Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job?
Analytical problem solving, communication and diligence

Your future career plans?
In future I would like to deepen my knowledge of warship stealth design and become an expert in my field and get opportunities to measure warship signatures at sea. Beyond that I would love to gain experience designing aircraft for stealth or work in Research and Technology to explore the design of future combat systems.

What benefits of IMA membership have you observed in your career so far?
It keeps me in touch with like-minded mathematicians after exiting academia, so I get to meet other people in industry who also apply maths in their role. It provides the opportunity to attend conferences to expand and share my knowledge. It retains my links to STEM and provides opportunities to attend STEM events e.g. The Big Bang Fair.


Featured image by Piotr Guzik on Unsplash