A Peek into Design Engineering at NPX
This week, we sat down with Erica Culliton, our Design and Governance Lead on our Design Engineering team to tell us a bit about the work that she does, why design engineering is a growing portfolio at the company and what she loves about being part of the team.
Tell me about your role and what your team is working on.
My role at NPX is the lead of our Design Engineering group. My team is currently working on item equivalencies and replacement in kind projects for nuclear utilities. We're doing the design engineering work and verification that an item is a like-for-like replacement.
Why does your team exist?
Our Design Engineering Team exists because we saw this as the next step in NPX's future to be to get into the design deliverable space with nuclear design. Obviously, there's a lot of checking and verification and follow up that needs to happen. NPX really saw this as an opportunity where we can make a difference in the design engineering world within nuclear and bring in innovative strategies and new ideas to help us make design decisions and ensure that things are running safely and reliably.
NPX is on a mission to make nuclear better, faster, and cheaper. How does your team do that?
Our team is doing that right now by trying to digitize existing processes. For example, instead of having spreadsheets tracking things manually, we're trying to update those processes and innovate using PowerBI or other software. We're looking at doing digital engineering within our own design team as well, which would be moving to a fully digitized world of design engineering space instead of having paper-based drawings. We're looking at pain points within the process and how we can improve it. Design is one of those things where the practices are so standardized across all industries so we really want to see how we can make it more efficient and bring in those new technologies to make design work better.
Why did you join NPX?
I joined NPX because I saw that the company aligned with my own personal values of trying to make things better and be on the opportunity side of business. Giving back to the community and being involved in so many things is a core value that really resonated with me. I think the company's values as a a whole really aligned with the way that I wanted to work in the space that I wanted to work in. The potential growth within the company was also a huge draw. When I started, there wasn't a design engineering team and now, being a lead of the design engineering team just shows the progression and growth that you can have within the company.
What is your favourite part of being an NPXer?
I would say I have two favourite things. The first is the people I work with. It's great to work with open, optimistic, and positive people all of the time. There's never a time where I feel like I couldn't reach out to someone with a silly or random question and the people are just so great to work with in all aspects. My second favourite part is how we give back to the community. I think it means so much, and living in a small town like Kincardine you can really see the impact that NPX has. For example, we
did the Black Lives Matter poster about 2 or 3 years ago and when I go walk around town, I can still see them in people's yards. So seeing that difference that NPX has started in Kincardine is amazing.
What part of your workday do you most look forward to?
With our design engineering deliverables, you really have to dive deep to find all the requirements information. Sometimes we're looking in files that are from the 1980s and you're trying to find handwritten notes to put together the puzzle of why something was designed the way it is what what the justification for the requirement is. So the best part of my day is working with my team and finding those little niche things to solve the question of "why was this like this?" I love the investigation aspect. Once you figure something out, the feeling you get from that is amazing.