Preeya Lakhani MNucl EngTech

 Preeya Lekani 1

Job Title:  Technical Advisor

Company:  Atomic Weapons Establishment


Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date?  

I started my career as a Mechanical Engineering Apprentice at a consumer goods organisation. I moved on to be an Engineering Technician at AWE once I had completed my Higher Apprenticeship. After two years at AWE, I progressed to become a Mechanical Warhead Engineer, spending the next year working on component development. It was at this point that I decided to take up a secondment working for the AWE Executive Team, firstly as a Technical Advisor to the Chief Financial Officer, and now to the Programme Director. This has equipped me with the business and programme management skills to complement my engineering knowledge and enable me to be a future senior leader.

Who or what inspired you to work in nuclear? 

 I wanted to work with cutting edge technology which would one day shape the future of defence and energy. My interests lie both in engineering and science and working as an engineer at AWE is a great way to combine both worlds as well as collaborate with many other disciplines. I also wanted to play a part in protecting our nation and assuring our Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD), which is an exciting and challenging task. 

If you met someone new at a dinner party, how would you best explain your job and what it involves day-to-day? 

 This can sometimes be tricky! I work primarily in the ‘control room’ of AWE, and as a Technical Advisor my main responsibility is to keep my ear to the ground and ensure processes run smoothly and AWE’s performance stays on track. I regularly report back to the Programme Director which also allows him to redeploy me into areas which will enhance my knowledge or those that could use an extra helping hand.

 What are the frustrations you encounter in your work? 

 Whilst AWE’s main output is the UK’s CASD, this is split up into many projects and functions, alongside other expertise which AWE provides to the UK. It’s impossible to know everything that occurs on our sites which can sometimes frustrate me because everything is so relevant and interesting. I found it very difficult to decide if I wanted to be a specialist in one area or get to know the enterprise and develop into a leader. Whilst leadership is in my development plan, I continue to pick up technical skills. Nu

 How do you see your field developing over the next 10-15 years? 

Currently, we maintain the Trident warhead system that has been in service many years beyond its original design life and have been tasked by the MoD to maintain the capability to put a successor warhead system into service, if required by the government. There is a focus at AWE to research new technology and assess its potential benefits. In the next 10-15 years I imagine we will be evaluating how these technologies are performing in service and looking forward to identifying further improvements.

What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 

In contributing to the design and testing of sustainable components, I hope these will reduce cost and increase their working lifespan. In this process, the team I’m part of also contributed to the refinement of the qualification process, which I hope will enable other engineers to qualify more sustainable components in the future.

 Why did you choose to become a member of the Nuclear Institute and what do you value most about being a member? 

 I’d previously been a member of another engineering institute and found it a useful community for sharing ideas and the latest developments in technology. When the Nuclear Institute came to visit AWE, I realised that, whilst I’m an Engineer, I also work in the Nuclear Industry! I reviewed the NI website and read the Nuclear Delta, which I immediately respected and found relatable. I wanted to ensure that I met that standard too – so I applied for professional membership. I value most the community and openness of the NI events, I also enjoy reading Nuclear Future every month!

 What motivates you to get involved in volunteering opportunities and would you recommend volunteering to others? 

 I would absolutely recommend volunteering – whether its as a mentor or helping in early careers or conference events. It’s really satisfying to be able to give back to others and contribute to the development and success of other people. It’s also a great way to make new contacts and pick up information and tips from other engineers and organisations. Also…it’s enjoyable and good to take a day or so out of your usual routine.

How important is nuclear professionalism and the Nuclear Delta definition? 

 As with all the challenges ahead in the Nuclear Industry, it’s incredibly important that every Nuclear Professional across the sectors work to the same standard. The Nuclear Delta provides these standards, clearly split out into Safety and Security Culture and Nuclear Technology and Safety. All three are key themes which people can use to benchmark themselves as they develop through their career. This is equally important to those who are still learning and those who have been in industry for multiple decades (and everyone in-between).

 What would you say to encourage a young person to enter a career in nuclear? 

 The Nuclear sector is an ever-developing and technologically advanced sector. There are endless challenges and exciting developments which could lead the way in climate change solutions, defence and many other sectors. If you want to be on the frontier of these cutting-edge advancements, then a career in Nuclear should be in your sights. Clear