BLOG: Journey into polar engineering

23 June, 2021 ,

This International Women in Engineering Day 2021, Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme Trainee Project Manager Katie Handford shares her journey into polar engineering. 

I started in high school designing, building and racing 24V electrically powered cars as part of Greenpower schools racing. This got me into practical engineering which fitted well alongside with the science and maths I enjoyed at school. I then did some more work experience at sixth form shadowing at a company which milled parts for classic Minis. This encouraged me to apply for a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Leeds University.  

 My role at BAS 

My role is coordinating the design and construction of the new Discovery Building at Rothera. This involves communicating with a wide range of stakeholders to develop and review design to ensure it meets user requirements and is fit for purpose. This includes responding to technical queries, attending Factory Acceptance Tests for equipment as well as overseeing construction onsite at Rothera.  

A person wearing a hat and smiling at the camera
Katie Handford, Trainee Project Manager

Why I chose engineering as a career path 

Engineering offers such a wide range of interesting careers and opportunities from desk-based jobs in design, modelling and planning; to hands-on work inspecting, assembling and maintaining equipment.        


My advice to other women thinking about pursuing engineering 

Have a go! There are many routes into the profession with many different roles and thousands of opportunities to work on projects worldwide. The skills gained in engineering are also applicable in many other sectors making it a very employable profession.  


What I enjoy about my role and engineering in general 

It is exciting to work on such a large-scale project in an environment as remote and hostile as Rothera. This creates a variety of strange issues such as keeping seals off road crossings, nesting birds and snow drifts. These issues are interesting to resolve using the collaborative culture at BAS and within the construction partnership.

Discovery Building at Rothera Research Station
©-HBA-BAS Rothera Discovery Building Visualisation