• Question: What checks and balances do you use to make sure that you don't make mistakes?

    Asked by Dillon rodger to Ryan, Nadine, Matt, Emma, Daniel, Allanah on 11 Jun 2019. This question was also asked by Rhys Neary.
    • Photo: Ryan Smith

      Ryan Smith answered on 11 Jun 2019:

      There are plenty, but the big one is what we call design reviews. It is where you sit down with your manager and a few other engineers and go over a design you have made, making sure that everything is right and to get a good second opinion on your work. It shows up issues you may not have thought of, and means not all of the responsibility is on you.

      This doesn’t always catch everything, and that is why we exhaustively test every device that we make before we send it to space. We also have some great software that keep us to certain “design rules” when making things like circuit boards that stop silly mistakes.

      RAL Space also keep a big log of the “lessons learnt” over time, which can be a really useful read, learning from other people mistakes.

    • Photo: Daniel Wye

      Daniel Wye answered on 11 Jun 2019:

      Within the Military aircraft world, there is a framework of regulations and guidance that allows us as engineers to determine logical steps when doing our work. As a Lead Engineer, I review the work of my team before it is released outside of our section to provide a second pair of eyes to review technical assessments.

    • Photo: Allanah Green

      Allanah Green answered on 11 Jun 2019:

      Within my team we carry out loads of manual testing called regression testing which is where we check all components of the BT sport app to ensure its all working. We also do load testing which stimulates a certain amount of users making sure the app can preform under pressure and how much users it can handle.
      The wider team do trials where they give trialist a version of the app/ product to test and ask for their feedback before it reaches wider audiences.

    • Photo: Matt Keith

      Matt Keith answered on 11 Jun 2019:

      Lots! For me, the biggest thing which can go wrong is my reactor leaking. So I check that it is properly sealed, the gasket is not worn out and all the fittings are tight. I also run regular leakage tests by pumping nitrogen into it and immersing the reactor in a bucket of water – if there’s bubbles, I know I have a leak!

      The other thing I use a lot are spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel – I have to double check all the formulas I’m using quite carefully to make sure I don’t make a mistake!

    • Photo: Nadine Priestman

      Nadine Priestman answered on 14 Jun 2019:

      There are different checks and balances for each of the tasks, that I do. As I belong to a small team, we tend to work independently and ask each other for advice as we go through each of our processes. At each stage I will check the following. For the kit process, the kit has complete at least two overnight runs before it can be send the kitter to be kitted. Once the kit has been raised by the engineer, it is then approved by his managers. (one check) This will then enable the DIB (dispatch instruction book) after it’s overnight run, to appear in our streamer. The streamer is an excel spreadsheet which tells us what status each of the kits at, if it is at 100% the kit can be released. If not, we have to wait until the parts come into stores. (another check) Once the kit is at 100%, the kit can be released by the hardware controllers and the kitter can be informed. (another check) The kitter will pick the kit and inform the engineer to pick it up.