Training the next generation of systems engineers

Scott Richardson, Senior Systems Engineer

Scott Richardson, RPS Senior Systems Engineer is standing in front of the The Capital performing arts theater in Bendigo, Victoria.

Scott Richardson is the technical mind behind some of Australia's most serious defence initiatives. A lead Systems Engineer (SE) who has contributed to projects including the development of the Bushmaster and Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicles—equipment that keeps our Defence personnel safe in combat situations through a proven anti-explosive design—Scott’s been a member of the RPS' Victorian team for about a year. We spoke to Scott about working rurally, training systems engineers of the future, and his best regional bakery picks.

QTell us about your role at RPS. What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m a Senior Systems Engineer in the Project Management Team and currently in the role of Engineering Manager on a Department of Defence initiative. The project is nearing the end of the verification stage, and I’m leading a great team of engineers, as well as contributing systems engineering and project development lifecycle guidance.

I live out in the bush (metropolitan speak for regional Victoria) and primarily work from home, so I generally get out of bed, switch my computer on, grab some brekkie and get cracking from there. I spend at least 50% of my time in meetings and on calls making sure everything’s planned properly in advance, going smoothly, and is on track.

Quick Q&A

Favourite place for coffee?

The bakery down the street, George’s Bakehouse.

Footy team?

Carlton, although unfortunately there’s not much great news to back in recent years.

How long have you lived in Victoria?

All my life.

Favourite place to spend time in Vic?

Ravenswood. My mum grew up there and I’m really fond of it.

QIn your year with RPS so far, what have you achieved that you’re especially proud of?

I created and chair a community of practice for systems engineering within RPS. It’s still a work in progress, but the potential is definitely there. The purpose of our community isn’t just to grow awareness of systems engineering and its benefits, but to develop and upskill our team of systems engineers to make them as good as they can be. We share a lot of knowledge, skills, and resources with each other, and being able to interact as a group means we’re in a position to build a really strong practice within the company.

From a client perspective, being able to work on a challenging project and maintain schedule is satisfying given the frequent obstacles along the way.

QWhat do you think is Victoria’s biggest opportunity right now?

I think one of the biggest lessons learnt from COVID is that as a Victorian community we don’t have to be in the CBD to do critical work.  There has been huge improvement in remote IT network capabilities, and use of online communication tools.

This is a huge opportunity for people to implement their best version of a work/life balance. In my case, living over two hours away from the city and being able to save the time and money you would otherwise spend commuting five days a week is a real game-changer. Most importantly, it's providing my girls, who have a respiratory condition, with good clean country air!

It’s also a real godsend for rural areas. It means that in many cases, companies can fill jobs with the best applicant possible, irrespective of geographical constraints that had formerly prevented the same people from obtaining roles, or requiring them to move their family to/closer to Melbourne purely for the sake of work.

The ability to hire the required skillsets from anywhere in the state or country is incredibly valuable.

QRPS has been working with the Department of Defence on Victorian initiatives for many years. What do you think is the key to defence sector success?

Continuing to foster great partnerships with major service providers and internally with Defence representatives has always, and will continue to be vital moving forward. RPS is lucky to have a lot of great people we can put forward for Defence project roles, but expanding our team with experienced practitioners, investing in systems engineering training and developing our understanding of the defence approach to projects will be crucial in the years ahead. There are many projects that would benefit in schedule, cost and risk reduction from strong systems engineering fundamentals.

One of my personal long-term goals is to have RPS recognised for the development and provision of great systems engineers. This is not necessarily Defence-specific, but that’s where a lot of our work tends to come from at the moment due to the huge investments being made in the sector.

QYou live regionally and a significant proportion of the Defence work you have worked on is regional as well. How does this distributed workload get managed?

Our defence sites are widely distributed across the state and country. This means that even if one part of Victoria is facing issues, such as COVID lockdowns that might interrupt or impede our workflow, the rest of us can step in and continue with the work. All our eggs aren’t in one geographical basket when it comes to getting the work done, which is a real positive.

QWhat would be your dream project to work on?

I’d love to develop a new defence vehicle from scratch using the correct balance of the SE System Development Life Cycle.

QWhy are you proudly Victorian? 

Whether you’re rural or metropolitan there’s a great sense of community in Victoria, and I really appreciate that. Victoria has everything you could need for a great life balance: beautiful landscapes, from costal to mountains to arid areas; a vast array of industries; and most importantly one of the best children’s hospitals in the world, which is very close to my heart.

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Scott Richardson

Senior Systems Engineer

Project and program management services

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