Dr Alyse Coates

Dr Alyse Coates

Ever since I was small, I have been fascinated in how and why things work. I have always enjoyed taking things apart to look inside; and now, as a grown up, I get to do this for a living!

I am an Electromagnetic Compatibility specialist and I work for Rolls-Royce (the company that creates power for use on land, at sea and in the air). My job includes analysing and testing all of the electrical and electronic units that make up the control system of a jet engine. This work determines the effects of a lightning strike (with the associated electrical currents of hundreds of thousands of amps), flying through radar (with enough microwave energy to cook a person), and whether the different units can work in close proximity to each other. Thus ensuring that the engine will continue to operate in a safe manner.

I have to negotiate with our internal and external customers and suppliers to ensure that there is a consistent approach to tackling issues and designing units. Using my knowledge of the units and environment in which they will operate, I write test procedures based on international and customer standards, oversee testing of the units and examine any resultant documentation. Using the information gleaned from this testing, I produce recommendations for rework and redesign as appropriate and I then have to produce comprehensive and highly detailed documentation which needs to be accepted by the relevant certification authorities.

And I do all this despite being diagnosed as dyslexic

Throughout my time at school I struggled to understand, 'do' maths and spell. I would watch others do things with ease, whilst I was still trying to understand the instructions. So I decided that since everyone else could do it, so would I. I worked around my difficulties to the point where people generally didn't notice. Despite the frustrations and struggling to comprehend teachers and lecturers, I persisted. I achieved a Master's degree in Engineering and decided to continue my study to post graduate level. It was in my second year of PhD that a friend queried whether I was dyslexic and I was eventually tested and diagnosed.

I am now acknowledged as an expert in my field and have achieved Chartered Engineer status.

The highlight of my career so far? Looking up at the new Trent XWB engines, with the Rolls-Royce logo emblazoned on the side, powering the new A350 aircraft and thinking "I helped create that"!