Dr Cayt Rowe has a lot of fun in her work at the Department of Defence Science and Technology Group.
Her training in mechanical engineering and mathematics has led her to work with fast jets and submarines, to deployments in the Middle East and United Kingdom.
Her current team runs simulations and war games to figure out what types of capabilities Australia should invest in.
"It's a lot about actually never getting to armed conflict and that's something that I particularly love, this sense of helping make the world a better place."
Dr Rowe enjoys working with wicked problems: the problems which are poorly understood and difficult to solve due to the number of variables and moving parts.
Operations analysis work delves into what kinds of environments Australian forces are likely to operate in in the future, and working on logistics and which combinations of capabilities will be needed, from infantry soldiers to air-to-air refuelling to submarines.
"I think that the techniques that we use for defence actually do have applications to a whole lot of other things.
"There's a lot of areas of public policy around the environment and health and even just people's individual decision making and organisational decision making, which could be helped by operations analysis."
Dr Rowe has been selected for the Superstars of STEM program, a government-backed program designed to amplify the voices of women in science, technology, engineering and maths.
There have been many times in her career where Dr Rowe has been the only woman in the room.
She was the only female mechanical engineer in her final year of university, and when she worked on submarine engineering in particular there were very few other women.
"One particular defence facility that I went to, I went to the toilet and the toilet paper just disintegrated. And I said, 'how long since anyone's changed it?'
"They said "you're probably the first person to ever use that toilet... it was probably 10 years old that facility."
She said the perception of defence as having a male-dominated, macho culture doesn't help in encouraging a diverse range of people to the department.
"That's a real loss to defence, not just gender diversity but ethnic diversity as well," she said.
"It's vital a defence force reflects the culture from which it comes from."
When she fell in love and decided to make Canberra her home, there were many interesting science jobs she could have gone into.
Long-term defence force design was an area where there was a real potential to make a difference.
"It really lays the foundation for our security as a nation which I think is really important and it's also a lot of fun.
"I absolutely love my work and I think there's so many women out there who would be such an asset to our industry that I want to encourage more young women to get involved."
- Superstars of STEM is a series highlighting Canberra women kicking goals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.