Sophie Harker, female aerospace engineer, in wind tunnel

Sophie Harker

Flight Futurist. Aerodynamics engineer at BAE Systems.

Female aerospace engineer in aircraft hangar with plane
View of Earth from space
Aircraft taking off
Female aerospace engineer with model aircraft

When I was 16, I visited Kennedy Space Centre, where I decided I wanted to an astronaut, but didn’t know how to. It was only when I met astronaut Dr Helen Sharman, the first British person in space, that I realised that becoming an engineer was my route.


Growing up, I had no idea what job I wanted to do. Careers advisors suggested all sorts of jobs like accountant, teacher and even costume designer. My family doesn’t have a science background and I didn’t know any engineers, or really know what engineering was, I thought it was something that involved spanners and hammers! But speaking to the astronaut Dr Helen Sharman, the first British person in space, I learnt that you could become an astronaut through engineering. 


I did a Masters degree in Mathematics at the University of Nottingham, and then joined BAE Systems on their graduate scheme. I am now an Aerodynamics and Performance Engineer and experiments with future concept military aircraft. This means that I use maths to work out whether designs for future aircraft will fly and, if they do, how fast or how far will they fly, and what I can do to improve their performance.


I love knowing that there are aircraft flying in the sky with designs I have worked on, and that the incredible technologies I work with could help make holidays in space a reality.


For me, engineering is all about being part of a team that shares a goal to build something amazing for the future, and through doing that you get to leave a legacy. I love that engineering is open to everybody no matter their background.

Where to next?

Find out more about how you can turn what you love into engineering, and what a future in engineering could look like, by exploring the links below. And if you have a question or comment, get in touch, we’d be happy to help!