In our Bright Lights series, we’re showcasing some of our brilliant employees and their experience of working here at STG Aerospace. This month, we sat down with Junior Research and Development Scientist, Tracy Vyas, to talk about why she chose STG, what her role entails, and the exciting project she is leading on.
The past couple of years have been extremely difficult for everyone, not least for graduates. Covid turmoil meant opportunities were limited and despite leaving university with a solid foundation of education and experience, they were searching for their first job in one of history’s biggest market downturns.
Following her university studies, from which she graduated with a master’s degree in Chemistry, that’s the position that Tracy Vyas found herself in. After her first role at a waste management company was made redundant as a result of the pandemic, Tracy found herself in a brand new, yet very timely, environment.
“I found an opportunity with a company that was making lateral flow tests,” she explained. “It was very important at the beginning of the pandemic, but as everyone started getting vaccinated and the world was opening back up again, it was time for me to look for a new role, and that’s when I found STG.
“I didn’t know much about the aerospace industry, but the chemistry side of their photoluminescent technology really appealed to me. So, I thought I’d find out more information and, eight months later, here we are.”
Tracy works in the Research and Development team in our Photoluminescent business unit, headed up by Dr. Sean O’Kell, Business Unit Director. Tracy helps support our production and quality teams with technical queries, and helps out when required, with our in-house testing procedures – although, “no two days are the same,” she admits.
“We have to meet a lot of safety standards that are set by the regulating authorities, EASA and the FAA. Our emergency exit marking products have to keep passengers safe while they’re in the air – that includes making sure they charge correctly, they give off enough light to guide passengers to their exits, and also that they are flame retardant, durable and safe. There’s a lot of testing involved and, as a chemist, that’s what I find really exciting.
“Being involved with the lateral flow tests during such a turbulent time was frantic and fast-paced, but the base science always stayed the same. It wasn’t an environment for creativity or new ideas.
“While at STG, we have to adhere to safety protocols and our processes, it’s completely different. We’re always looking to innovate and find solutions, so you have to think outside the box and try new things. That is so exciting. You come up with a prototype, you build it and test it, take it through certification and then you see it go into production. Being involved from cradle to production is so satisfying.
Since joining STG, Tracy is now a self-confessed ‘aeroplane nerd’. She explains that whenever her or her family fly, she is always asking them to look out for the floor path marking and cabin lighting, much to her sister’s annoyance!
Checking safety systems when flying is a new passion, but it has aligned with a number of others in Tracy’s life. She is a first aider and has recently qualified as a Mental Health First Aider, joining the STG team of volunteers from across the business to support colleagues with physical or mental health requirements. Tracy is also leading her first project with a particular focus on sustainability, a cause close to her heart.
“I was given the responsibility to research and investigate sustainable material options and I am loving that. With the support of the team, I have space to creating my own plans, come up with ideas, do the research, write the reports and present my findings to the business.
“It’s not unusual for new starters to be given the reins on a project here, which is amazing. Sometimes that’s the best way to learn, to be given the freedom to explore something in its entirety. When I presented my initial findings to the business, it was amazing to get feedback from so many different voices and viewpoints across the business. So now I’m reviewing that and incorporating it into the work.”
Tracy arrived at her STG interview just wanting to learn a little more about the role and the industry and, eight months later, she’s so happy that she did. So, what would she say to somebody in a similar situation? Would she recommend a career at STG?
“If you want autonomy and to be given responsibility in a supportive and innovative environment, absolutely,” she answered. “It’s such an open culture - I can talk to our CEO, just as easily as I can to people in my own team.
“I also have the freedom to plan my own day. We have objectives and priorities already agreed, so I know where I need to focus. In other places I’ve worked, I’ve had to wait for my manager to give me the job/activities for that day. At STG I can just get on with things, know where they fit in the wider business plans and help make a real difference.”