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Department of Defence - Navy Engineering Program

  • > 100,000 employees


Lachlan studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics) at the University of Wollongong and is now a Vulnerability and Signature Management Engineer at the Department of Defence.

What's your job about?

I work with the Directorate of Navy Engineering, in the Vulnerability and Signature Management area. We are responsible for ensuring that Royal Australian Navy (RAN) equipment and platforms are adequately designed to reduce overall susceptibility (can we be detected by adversaries?) and vulnerability (can we withstand combat damage?).

My work is primarily concerned with the Vulnerability aspects of the above, which covers a wide range of topics and tasks. Day to day work generally includes documentation review/feedback, analysis of results from mechanical shock testing, and providing specialised advice to Defence projects or contractors. A large part of my role at the moment is reviewing technical shock qualification evidence to assess whether Navy’s requirements have been achieved. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to witness shock testing as it’s conducted, which may involve dropping equipment from a height (in a controlled environment!) and then performing functional checks to make sure everything still works. 

I’ve also recently been involved in remotely planning and coordinating ballistic testing of materials at Defence facilities. Performing ballistic testing on materials in-use by the RAN ensures that we can be certain of a level of protective performance. Usually we attend these in person, however COVID-19 meant that this time it was not possible. 

These are just a couple examples of tasks that the Vulnerability and Signature Management area are heavily involved in.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

My job requires me to be actively involved in discussions and decisions which have a tangible impact on future and current Defence capabilities. Being able to positively contribute to these in a way which is valued and sought-after gives me a sense of purpose in my role. On occasion, I also get to witness physical shock/ballistic testing, which is pretty cool too! 

What are the limitations of your job?

Vulnerability and Signature Management advises on a subset of platform survivability topics, with the aim to minimise RAN platform’s susceptibility and vulnerability to threats. These are inherently safety-critical functions, and there is a very high associated level of responsibility which comes with working in the area. It is crucial to not only articulate our requirements, but also provide the technical justification behind them. Doing this can be quite mentally demanding, and occasionally requires me to take questions “on notice” to ensure I am providing clear and accurate guidance.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Start doing Parkrun (Saturday morning 5k run) – great way to start the weekend.
  • Find a hobby that aligns with your degree – or change your degree to better suit your interests/hobbies! Doesn’t apply universally, but I enjoyed robotics and electronics as a hobby, and took too long to swap over to Mechatronics as an Engineering major.
  • Don’t stress about the things you can’t change. Learn to meditate instead.