Paul Strickland

Paul Strickland

About Paul

My name is Paul Strickland and I am an aeronautical engineer currently working in the UK defence industry.

My professional life

Since graduating in 2007 I have been employed to assess the safety aircraft systems and for the majority of that time I have focused on weapons carried by fast jet aircraft.

My job requires me to solve problems by scrutinising complex systems, identifying hazards and assessing risk. I produce robust arguments and must communicate my findings in a clear and concise way. I particularly enjoy the more novel tasks and developing new ways to present complex arguments.

Developing my career

After spending five years developing my technical skills, I am interested in growing my ability. Although I love to get stuck in to technical work, I have also started to enjoy the broader aspects of work and business. The key thing for me is to constantly look for ways to improve. This could be simple — such as sharing knowledge more efficiently, better estimating of effort for tasks or developing new engineers — or more complex, such as looking at our work in a more strategic way.

Our workplace is far from perfect, and as with many jobs there are days and weeks that are incredibly frustrating. In the past few years I’ve suffered from this a great deal, but despite this I remain convinced that it is possible to develop and maintain a healthy and enthusiastic environment at work. It’s something that I think will be hard to do, but it’s also something that I want to achieve.

The most recent change in my workplace has been mentoring new engineers. I’ve enjoyed this much more than I imagined, and have been intrigued by the different ways I see people learning.

Personal projects

When I’m not working, I enjoy a variety of other pastimes including:

  • Reading — I love fiction but in the past couple of years I have also been reading The New Statesman every week and find it enthralling
  • Learning how to make 3D models using Blender
  • Developing my programming ability using Python
  • Cycling — I try to cycle to work about 3 days a week
  • Writing Monte Carlo simulation software for predicting risk
  • Baking — I bake bread every week and also enjoy baking cakes and other sweet things
  • Coffee — my most recent obsession, I have been developing my skills in search of the perfect espresso and flat white

Software projects

Being keen to keep my mind in a problem-solving mode, I have a number of personal projects I like to work on when I have some spare time. Two of the biggest projects have been creating a Wiki for use at work, and writing Monte Carlo simulation software.

Using the excellent MediaWiki framework, I designed a prototype Wiki for use storing the vast amount of corporate knowledge in the engineering directorate where I work. This project had a rather unofficial pilot that served my needs quite well, but unfortunately it didn’t get adopted by the company. I’m now looking at a less ambitious departmental handbook to share the same sort of knowledge at a more local level.

When I started this website, I was working hard on writing Monte Carlo software to create models of third party risk. I had the idea to start this after I was involved in a complex risk assessment at work. Given the time constraints we had, we created a simple model to illustrate how the risk to third parties could vary. I took this idea further in my own time and documented my work here. Since then, I have worked on a few smaller projects, loosely linked together into a toolkit to help with my day job.

Other recreation

In 2011 I built my first bike — an On-One 456 steel hardtail. Unfortunately for my bank balance, only a year later I convinced myself to build a road bike for commuting and touring.

In 2012 I built a Planet X Kaffenback. Used as my commuting bike, it clocked up 2370 km in 2012, before an unfortunate illness put me in hospital. From spring 2013 I began to cycle again, riding just over 2000 km by the end of the year. Although I still struggle a bit with my health, I ride whenever I can.