It is true that apprentices, regardless of industry, are thrown into the deepest part and need to sink or swim. Leidos’ Paul Chester, the Rising Stars Awards 2021 Apprentice of the Year, is arguably one of the latter groups, helping to develop large, complex and important tool suites while studying at university.
What is Leidos and what do you do there?
Leidos’ mission is to make the world safer, healthier and more efficient through technology, engineering and science. We provide our customers with technical solutions to address and solve existing, new and future challenges. Working for such a large global company is exciting.
I’m currently an apprentice to a Leidos software engineer. Originally participating as a Level 3 apprentice as a member of the IT Services Desk, I had the opportunity to move to the software team of the Bachelor’s Apprentice Program. My role is to go to college once a week and work on four other customer projects.
Since I started my degree apprenticeship program, I have been involved in the development of the Intelligent Approach (IA). The IA is a suite of adaptive air traffic controller tools that safely optimizes airport arrival intervals to maximize runway capacity and efficiency and is used at London Heathrow, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and Nav Canada. ..
I work in a team that develops, updates, and integrates software for many major airports. As a software engineer, my day-to-day work varies. I’m involved in programming with multiple software languages, writing support documentation, configuring containers, automating builds and deployments, testing at both string and unit levels, and identifying and fixing bugs. In college, there is a mix of lectures and live labs related to software engineering.
I enjoy the wide range of abilities and diverse abilities that accompany the role of software engineer. There are no two days on the same day, and new challenges are always presented. From an early age, I’ve always been an avid problem solver, finding out how things work and how things can be fixed or improved. My role is to allow me to challenge myself when solving complex problems, not only to solve the problem, but also to understand when it happened. Technology is constantly evolving, so it requires constant learning, which I can enjoy from both the work and study process.
Please tell me about your entry to the Rising Star Awards.
I didn’t know about my entry until my manager said he nominated me! I was surprised to be nominated for both the Apprentice of the Year and the Rising Star. I knew I was getting good feedback, but I couldn’t think of being nominated for an award behind the scenes.
I’m proud to have been nominated because I’m solidifying and recognizing the work I’ve done and the feedback I’ve received. As part of my nomination, my manager has summarized one of the greatest achievements in my role so far. He played a leading role in some of the customer-facing elements of the intelligent approach, highlighting my contribution to researching, designing, and implementing solutions.
What does the award mean to you?
Being an apprentice in 2021 is a great achievement, and it is significant that my efforts are recognized. The award-winning committee, as well as my colleagues, considers me worthy of an award, which gives me confidence and a sense of accomplishment. It’s one of the things you get recognition from within your own organization, but for others you recognize it to be both uplifting and motivational.
I wouldn’t have been in this position if the manager had nominated me and the project I was working on didn’t give me the opportunity to demonstrate my abilities, work ethic, and motivation to learn.
I am driven by the opportunity to learn more about technology. Opportunities to positively impact technology and recognize my achievements drive me further and make sure I’m heading in the right direction.
What is your most proud personal achievement in the last 12 months?
I am most proud to have worked on updating and redesigning the IA control and monitoring interface. This is a key element for users who can both monitor and control the application, similar to the dashboard that the end user sees.
We were able to improve the look and feel of the solution and implement new technologies such as containers to upgrade security. As technology evolves, security solutions need to become more sophisticated to protect against new threats.
You were given the opportunity and time to research and learn about all aspects of the solution before making any changes. Learn more about web development and database integration, and containerization and network messaging protocols. Throughout the development phase, we learned about the user experience from key meetings and demonstrations with key stakeholders.
Collaboration skills have improved throughout the process, and the area of knowledge and expertise needed to make changes has been strengthened. I’m currently the contact point within the team for containers, Simple Network Messaging Protocol (SNMP), and anything related to control and monitoring. This is a big achievement in itself and I’m proud of it.
What are you working on this year?
This year too, we are working on an intelligent approach and related projects. I am looking forward to the next module at the university as it will improve my programming and database knowledge and expertise. The second year of college ends at Christmas. We also want to encourage new talent in technology and hope to support our early careers and STEM programs here at Leidos. I look forward to seeing what other projects I can participate in to broaden my experience and knowledge.
The Featured Stock Award will be back next year.Please keep an eye on Computing For more information.
Paul Chester, 2021 Apprentice
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