Katie engineers a world-class award

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An East Lothian student’s groundbreaking work to improve an electronic detection system has earned her a national award.

Katie Archibald, 19, a former Knox Academy pupil, scooped top prize in the Future Industry Leader Awards last week during the Royal Academy for Engineering Awards in London.

Her award is the result of her innovative work with Finmeccanica-Selex ES, where she developed an accurate mathematical computer model of the reflectivity of the ground, as seen by the company’s radars.

Katie, who studied for A levels at Fettes College in Edinburgh, has been taking part in the Year in Industry programme where gap-year students are placed with top industrial employers.

Finmeccanica-Selex ES is an international leader in electronic and information technologies for defence systems, aerospace, data, infrastructures, land security and protection and sustainable solutions.

During her time at Finmeccanica-Selex ES, Katie developed a project where she significantly enhanced the accuracy of predictions of modern radar modes, by developing an advanced clutter model which simulates expected clutter (radar reflections from the ground) using free Ordnance Survey map data.

To develop the clutter model, Katie taught herself programming and designed her own software to draw 3D objects.

In collaboration with her manager, Katie wrote a paper for a journal outlining her work on a complex element of the project and her solution to inconsistencies in the data produced.

As a result of hers work, Finmeccanica-Selex ES has been able to reduce the number of flight trials required in testing and development. This is expected to result in significant savings each year as well as being more environmentally-friendly.

A company spokesperson said: “Katie was a stand-out candidate from the moment we interviewed her, brimming with enthusiasm and confidence.

“Working with calm, dogged determination throughout the year, she has never let any obstacle beat her.

“Her work on the advanced clutter model is world class and is worthy of someone with much more experience. She transformed her model from being merely ‘very good’ to being ‘outstanding’. The results are simply astonishing! Her success is a result of her tireless endeavour and brilliant intellect.”

Katie, who is going to study engineering at Cambridge University, said: “Having the opportunity this year to apply my own knowledge and skills to a real engineering project has been invaluable.

“It is an amazing feeling to see the positive impact that my own work has had on the company.”