Samantha Douglas was a keen EVolocity student while at Avonside Girls High. Her love for engineering began with a natural desire to know how things worked – and why they worked that way.
Along the way, Sam realised that rocket science isn’t just a phrase for something too complicated, it’s an exciting career opportunity. Today, Sam works as a Mechanical Test Technician at Rocketlab and completing an apprenticeship to gain level 4 in aerospace maintenance engineering.
We chatted to Sam about her engineering journey – her favourite projects, the importance of sustainability, how she chose maintenance engineering, and a touch of advice for EVolocity students:
You’ve been working with Rocket Lab! Tell us a little about their mission.
Rocket Lab is dedicated to opening access to space to improve life on Earth. Using Electron, a small launch vehicle with 36 flights to date. One of the most frequently flown rockets in the industry.
How is sustainability considered?
Sustainability definitely has a very important part in flying rockets. Ensuring that the materials launched won’t be a risk if they were to fall back through the atmosphere.
Along with the recent Recovery Team dedicated to recovering the rockets Stage 1 and requalifiying and reusing some components on future launches.
What’s been your favourite engineering project to date?
The most exciting project on the go for me is the development of Neutron. A much larger rocket, capable of a 13 tonne payload and will deploy constellations, provide cargo resupply, and further interplanetary missions.
My role in all of this is building and testing rocket components. Currently i’m working my way through their 2 year apprenticeship. Grasping new concepts and systems daily. Slowly piecing together all the systems into one fully functioning rocket.
Where did your love of engineering start?
My love of engineering started with a general need to know as to how everything worked – why it worked that way – why is it this shape or this material etc?
But I needed a hands on approach so I chose the maintenance engineering pathway.
Outside of engineering, what are your favourite pastimes?
Outside of engineering, when I wasn’t playing football, I was always a bit obsessed with space – looking up images of galaxies and satellites and the latest images I could get my hands on. Studying astrophysics at uni really solidified my passion sending me into the aerospace industry.
How did EVolocity contribute to your journey?
Evolocity was my first opportunity to really workshop something. It gave me access that I didn’t have before and opened my eyes to what I was capable of. Testing out different systems, failing a lot, but it just made the success that much sweeter. At the end our project looked a little silly but we were so damn proud of it.
We built that – We designed that – And it kinda worked!
One piece of advice for aspiring engineers?
If there’s one piece of advice I can offer; Stay Curious. Pester people with more experience and knowledge and learn everything they have to offer. If they’re knowledgeable they’re likely to talk your ear off. You don’t need to know what exactly you want to pursue. There’s so many amazing things to learn about and you have more time than you think.