Joisbel Castro Ramirez is a Materials Welding Technologist. Her dual-focused role is divided between developing the steel and welding technology for the Future Submarine Program, and working with the Technologist team to help source Australian suppliers for the materials for the build of the Attack class submarines.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I really enjoy visiting the suppliers; it gives me an opportunity to head out of the office and breaks up the daily working routine. I enjoy meeting new people and learning about the processes that are used to manufacture the different materials our suppliers produce.
I enjoy seeing the development of different ideas, and it’s really interesting and rewarding to see brand new capabilities being developed in Australia.
How did you get to where you are today?
I’m originally from Venezuela, in South America. I’ve always had an interest in chemistry and science, and engineering covers a lot of that subject matter. I completed a Bachelor of Engineering and then I decided to move to Australia, which was a big change and a huge challenge for me.
I then studied in Adelaide at UniSA, and completed a Masters degree in Marketing. I feel my skills lie somewhere between being an Engineer and Marketer; I enjoy the technical aspects of engineering but also enjoy stakeholder engagement.
It’s been a long journey to get to where I am today, with a lot of study and hard work. It’s also challenging living so far away from my family, but I’m really happy to now be living in Adelaide and working on such an exciting and innovative program.
What has been the most surprising thing you have found about your role and working at Naval Group Australia?
I’ve been very surprised (and pleased) at how respected my input and professional opinion is as an engineer. As a female in a male dominated field, it can sometimes be intimidating but at Naval Group everyone is very open and listens to what you have to say. I really feel a part of the team, and that my input is valued.
Could you describe the two aspects of your current role in more detail?
My role is 50% developing the Australian steel for the program which includes plates and forgings for the pressure hull and structural steel to support the infrastructure. In this area the qualification of Australian suppliers has already started and my main activities are to witness different stages of the manufacturing process and ensure they are compliant with Naval Group standards.
In the other 50% of my time I work with the fluid technologist team looking after raw materials to be used in the common technology (products that are not specific to submarines, are used across other industries). In this area we are currently sourcing Australian manufacturers or resellers for the different requirements that the submarine has. The second stage will be to prepare qualification plans for these suppliers and finally begin the qualification process to select the ideal suppliers.
What are the stakes (for the overall program) of the steel qualification process?
The steel qualification process it is one of the critical pathways of the program. It is the first time that Australia is making this grade of steel from beginning to end to support the structure of our twelve submarines. Getting the quality of the steel right means improving the local manufacturing capacity of Australia steel makers and ensuring our program is supporting the local content. In addition, using local manufacturers could reduce the lead time of buying steel from overseas. Another important point is that the recipe for this steel grade is kept within our country and the risks or other countries knowing the exact material. If the qualification process is successful, Australian steel would be used from submarine 1 to 12 ensuring the sovereignty of the program.
What do you most look forward to in the next few months?
I look forward to witnessing all the tests involved in the steel qualification process. This involves different test such as bending the plates, performing tensile and charpy tests and explosion tests, which will ensure our steel is resistant enough for the worst possible scenarios. From my technologist role I look forward to start the qualification process and to support Australian manufacturers to achieve Naval Group standards.