Army engineer shoots for the stars
A lightbulb moment at university paved the way for a smooth transition into Army aviation for 1st Aviation Regiment’s learning engineer officer Lieutenant Catherine Gerrard.
CAPTION: Lieutenant Catherine Gerrard stands in front an ARH Tiger at 1st Aviation Regiment, Robertson Barracks, Darwin. Story and photo by Flight Lieutenant Nicholas O’Connor.
Building extra-terrestrial rovers and spacecraft models as a child led to a dream of becoming a rocket engineer.
Growing up on the Gold Coast, her doctor father and engineer grandfather provided inspiration for her current career.
She joined Army in 2019 as part of the long-term schooling program in the Defence Undergraduate Scheme and is now posted to Robertson Barracks, in Darwin.
Lieutenant Gerrard said the move to Defence provided interesting career choices.
“When I was studying aerospace engineering at university, I discovered that almost all aerospace industry in Australia is to support Defence,” Lieutenant Gerrard said.
“I was interested in working with aircraft and I found a program where Defence would sponsor you to complete your degree.
“I also liked the community aspect of being a part of Defence, as well as the leadership opportunities it presented.”
Since moving to the Top End, Lieutenant Gerrard has spent time consolidating her training with practical experience and gaining exposure to the attack helicopter capability with ARH Tigers.
“As a learning engineering officer, we do rotations with each of the senior engineers,” she said.
“Last year I worked in the technical operations cell distributing engineering advice about maintenance issues, coordinating scheduled maintenance and conducting technical investigations following incidents on aircraft.
“Currently, I am assisting the technical support troop commander, who manages the aircraft technicians that conduct maintenance on the helicopters.”
Lieutenant Gerrard said she looked forward to advancing her Army aviation career, while enhancing her knowledge and skills through formal training.
“Next year I hope to move into the role of technical support troop commander, managing maintainers and planning maintenance, then I will be a part of the transition from the ARH Tiger to the new aircraft, AH-64E Apache,” Lieutenant Gerrard said.
“I have also started a Masters of Space Engineering and will one day move into the space domain.”