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Student program success for Aircraft Forensics Engineering

21 March 2017
Lucy and Zoe
(L-R) Lucy Caine and Zoe Van Gulick. Zoe is taking over from Lucy who just completed her full-year placement with DST.

Former Defence Industry Experience Placement (IEP) student Lucy Caine spent the last 12 months working as part of the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group Aircraft Forensic Engineering team which supports the ADF by analysing aircraft failures and defects, and recommending ways to avoid aircraft related incidents.

As part of this small team, Lucy’s contribution across the 12 month program has been a significant one having conducted 15 investigations, both with co-workers and independently, issuing 10 reports to clients, and working across nine different ADF platforms.

She presented on her experiences and the fascinating work undertaken by the team at the Defence Science Student Conference last month.

“While accident investigation is a very important part of what the team does, the day-to-day task is to prevent accidents from happening in the first place, through detailed forensic investigations,” Caine explains.

“I’ve learnt the value of being methodical and objective during these investigations, to make sure you get to the correct root cause. Even components that seem small and insignificant can often have unanticipated major consequences.”

Caine’s in-depth understanding and invaluable contribution to this unique function demonstrates how these short-term placements within the organisation can equate to significant project outcomes. 

Defence researcher Cathy Smith, says this was the first time the aircraft forensics engineering team had hosted an IEP student after deciding it was a good option. The team felt that the 12 month period would allow a student the time to learn the processes and procedures and gain enough experience to work with minimal instruction and contribute to providing invaluable advice to the ADF.

“Lucy has proved herself to be a capable, enthusiastic and reliable staff member,” Smith said.

“It has given forensics the opportunity to get to know a potential future recruit and provided an indication as to the knowledge and expertise we should expect from a new graduate.

“We have just commenced hosting another IEP student, Zoe Von Gulick, for 2017 and look forward to similar success from another high achieving Monash University Materials Engineering student.”

Caine has returned to finish her final semester of a Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Arts majoring in Materials Engineering and Linguistics at Monash University.