Katy Milne

Favourite Thing: Solving problems that will benefit people’s lives.

Me and my work

I inspect jet engines to make sure that they are safe.

We use the same methods that medical professionals use to diagnose illnesses, such as X-Ray, ultrasound (used to look at babies before they are born) and magnetic methods but we use them to look for defects in jet engines. I develop methods to inspect new types of materials.

Sometimes we have to inspect a component that is still in the jet engine. Then the inspection is like keyhole surgery. We put tiny cameras and instruments on the end of very long bendy sticks, which we use to probe the engine.

Engineers who I work with are involved in:

The bird strike test. The aim is to simulate a jet engine hitting a bird while the aircraft is in flight. Dead chickens are fired into a rotating jet engine using a rail gun.

The ‘fan blade off’ test: The aim is to simulate what would happen if a fan blade (the large blades that you can see at the front of a jet engine) failed during flight. Plastic explosives are used to break off one of the fan blades while the engine is rotating but on the ground. The engine should safely contain the failure and the fire.

How a jet engine works:

My Typical Day

Every day is different. Some days I work with computers; other days we will fly around the world to inspect an engine.

My job is very variable. Some days I write computer software to control machines or analyse data. Often I work with university research groups to solve particularly difficult problems. Occasionally I have to drop everything else to focus on an important issue. The variability is one of the reasons I love it!

Every day I get to solve problems and, when I work it out, it is the best feeling.


What I'd do with the money

Use it to buy much needed science equipment for a school in Uganda.

This summer I am volunteering at a school in Uganda. Many of the students are on scholarships, without which they would not be able to go to school. I am going to help the science and maths teachers and hope to bring the school some science equipment. 

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

cheerful, determined, clumsy

Who is your favourite singer or band?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

Sailed around Spain on a Tall Ship

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

To have a job where I am always learning, a new boyfriend who doesn’t watch football or three episodes of Family Guy a day and a life full of exciting experiences

What did you want to be after you left school?

A journalist or an engineer – or both!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Yes. I went to detention because I couldn’t stop laughing at a teacher.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I developed an inspection for a special kind of weld called a diffusion bond. The inspection will improve the safety of the engine.

Tell us a joke.

There are two parrots on a perch. One turns to the other and says “Does it smell fishy around here?”. …….sorry.