Arlene McConnell

You have arrived.

Welcome to the online CV/Portfolio of Arlene McConnell, Systems Engineer. Feel free to explore and read about me, my work, and other stuff I'm involved in! If you have a question or a request for a talk, drop me a line!



Arlene McConnell: Originally from Glasgow, I now am based in Edinburgh as a Senior Systems Engineer at SELEXGalileo. I graduated from Glasgow University with a first class honours in Electronics and Electrical Engineering, and also hold an HND in Automotive Engineering. I spend my (increasingly rare) free time rock climbing, enjoying dark beer, and both coaching and playing rugby.


Currently, I work as a Senior Systems Engineer at SELEXGalileo, specialising in Radar and Advanced Targeting Systems. Prior to that, I served with the Royal Air Force overseas as a Regiment Gunner. I have worked on various projects, including laboratory test and integration of a surveillance RADAR, laser reliability test design, and modelling and interface definition for the Raven ES05 Radar, which will be installed in Saab's Gripen Next Generation Fighter Aircraft.

The challenging and innovative nature of this work, combined with my passion for engineering and sharing it with others, led to my recognition as the 2010/2011 IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year and my selection for the Young Academy of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Feel free to click the images below to read more about my work.


I've been very privileged in that I've gotten to talk in some amazing places, in front of a great variety of people, from IET professionals to primary school kids. I like to make a story out of every talk I do, creating interactive presentations to keep everyone engaged and interested, and prevent any sleeping.

Be The Role Model

3 Steps to STEM

This was a talk that I originally gave to the engineers at GCHQ. It was designed to tell them a little bit about my career path and the kind of work I do, but mostly to encourage them to take up positions as role models themselves. The truth is, you don't need awards or titles to make a difference; you just have to be passionate about what you do as an engineer and have a willingness to share this with others. Mark Twain hit the nail on the head for me when he said 'the really great make you believe that you too can become great'.

Download this talk.

Three Steps to STEM

3 Steps to STEM

As I got further into my year as Young Woman Engineer, I began to formulate a 3 step process for addressing the barriers that prevent young women taking up careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines (STEM).

We can't- "Women can't do STEM jobs or tasks." This barrier is overcome by changing the perceptions of what STEM tasks actually are and how they relate to everyone.

We can, but I don't want to - this can be broken down by igniting passion in young people, really getting them excited about the amazing opportunities there are in STEM.

We can, I want to, but I can't - this is where role models come into play. Having identifiable, approachable examples that they can really relate to, standing in front of them, showing them the way, can help them believe in themselves and their abilities.

Download this talk.

An Engineer's Story

An Engineer's Story

Out of all the talks I deliver, I think this one is my favourite. This is the talk I take into schools to teach children about what its like to be an engineer. I tell them about my career path and about some of the cool and fun aspects of my job, relating aspects of my work to iconic figures they recognise like Ironman, Optimus Prime and Mrs Incredible. Often this talk is accompanied by a demonstration of one of our thermal cameras where I have the kids track their heat signatures around the room and look for things hidden under the materials the camera can detect through.

Download this talk.



I started playing rugby while still at the University of Glasgow, playing in and winning a Scottish Cup final. Right now, I'm a member of the Royal High Women's RFC, and also a coach for Broughton Women's RFC.


I started climbing to rehabilitate a rugby-induced shoulder injury, but it's now become a full-time habit. I've climbed (and fallen off of) boulders here in the UK, Canada, Spain, and France, as well as in the gyms right here in Edinburgh!

Contact Me

If you'd like to read my CV in its more traditional form, feel free to download the PDF, and if you have any more questions, contact me by e-mail at



I worked within a project focusing on the system integration of a surveillance radar. My main responsibilities were installation of different systems, real-time fault finding, problem documentation and problem solving. I authored and executed the systems level acceptance test procedures, in addition to the factory acceptance tests required to release the radar to the customer.


Outwith my discipline of Radar at the Laser Centre of Excellence at SELEXGalileo, I was tasked with the research and design of three novel reliability tests for a military specification laser. I learned the principles of reliability modelling and current test methods in order to improve and create new tests which would increase our knowledge of the materials used in laser equipment.


I was involved in flight trials analysis of a new surveillance Radar system designed for the US Customs and Border Protection. I produced a new tool designed to facilitate expedient analysis of flight trials data. The resulting product, named TrialsView, fulfilled its remit by allowing the user to read, manipulate and produce graphical plots of multiple data sets simultaneously, allowing analysts to quickly identify areas of problem or interest without having to manually search through hours of data.

Royal Air Force

As a member of the RauxAF I was trained in a number of military skills such as drill, survival skills and military manoeuvres. The trade of gunner required a high degree of aptitude in specialist weapons such as the machine gun and mortars as well as other equipment like combat radios and specialist night vision devices and surveillance equipment. As an SAC I was often a section commander in charge of the welfare of my section, planning manoeuvres and leading exercises. As a gunner, I was part of a specialist infantry unit, trained and equipped to defend the RAF's aircraft, people and bases. I received training in infantry tactics and weapons, from pistols, rifles and light machine guns, to mortars, anti-tank missiles and heavy machine guns. I also learned to use night-vision aids and other surveillance equipment in order to do my job of protecting the base, its people, and its aircraft.


Young Woman Engineer of the Year

As the IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2010-2011, I have been involved with a number of initiatives designed to encourage more young people into engineering. From delivering talks, workshops and acting as a panellist for discussions at various forums to submitting reports and writing articles which have appeared in the national press, as well as trying to be the best role model I can be.

Unlocking Potential - Perspectives on Women in STEM

I contributed to this report submitted by the Smith Institute to the government entitled Unlocking Potential: Perspectives on Women in Science, Engineering and Technology. I then travelled to London to Westminster Hall for the ceremony of this report being submitted to Parliament as a representative of the IET. There, I gave an opening speech and answered questions at a panel discussion.



I am currently working as a Senior Systems Engineer on the ES-05 Raven Radar for the Gripen Fighter Jet. This is an exciting project to be involved with as normally a planar array radar fitted in the nose of a fighter jet gives a field of view of about 60-70 degs, but by mounting the array on a rotatable plate the Raven ES-05 has a field of view more than 3 times this much. My main responsibilities on the project have been working on a requirements specification, which ensures the customer gets exactly what they want and that we get it right first time, a physical interface document which defines the connections between all the sub-systems of the entire system and a software interface document which defines the new protocols and messages between the Radar System and the Aircraft's computer. In the near future I will be working on integration and test of the system in a roof lab environment. This is one of the activities I most enjoy about my role as it requires a high degree of problem solving and innovation. Integration and test is not just proving what it does, it's about constantly improving!

Young Academy at the RSE

On September 5th, 2011, I was one of the first inductees into the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Young Academy. The Society, which was once presided over by Lord Kelvin, is one of the oldest of its kind in the world, and the new Young Academy is meant to provide a platform and a voice for the younger generation of scientists, engineers, innovators, and academics to push science forward and enable it to address some of society's most pressing issues.

IET Connect Board member

In 2011 I became a member of the Board of Trustees at IET Connect, which is a charity that helps members of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and their dependents who are facing difficulties. This is another of my many current responsibilities, and it gives me experience in areas that are not part of my day-to-day work, to make me a more well-rounded engineer. AI am responsible for managing the resources of the charity so as to maximise its potential, making sure that it functions within the right legal boundaries, managing finances, and applications for funds.


Chartered Engineer

I am currently working towards gaining Chartered Engineering Status with the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and towards becoming a Systems Team Lead with Selex Galileo. I expect to achieve both these targets within the next 12 -18 months and from here I will plan the next stage of the route towards my goal of becoming a Chief Engineer.