Meet Ellen – from genetic science to aviation maintenance

Ellen Amalia Force works as a Process Methods Engineer at Kongsberg Aviation Maintenance Services (KONGSBERG) at Rygge engine depot in Norway. It’s only been a few weeks since she relocated from Connecticut, United States, to start her new life in the Norwegian countryside.

A few years back, she decided to put her PhD-studies in neuroscience on the shelf, and coincidentally found her way into the aviation business.

“At the end of the day it is still the same analytical mind, just given different data,” says a smiling Ellen , and explains how both fields includes problem solving trough collection and analyzation of data.

While working for the American aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, responsible for maintenance on the F-16 program at Kjeller, Ellen visited Norway a few times and fell in love with the country, the people and its seafood.
“I instantly felt completely comfortable and a part of the group. We’re just a big family here at KAMS,” she says.

“I instantly felt completely comfortable and a part of the group. We’re just a big family here at KAMS”

Can you describe your job and what you’re actually doing every day, Ellen?

“We have several crews of Technicians and Mechanics performing maintenance on the F-135, which powers Norway’s new state-of-the-art tactical fighter jet, the F-35. These Technicians and Mechanics are amazing, and part of the reason I love my job as much as I do. They’re incredibly knowledgeable, juggling so many complex tasks throughout their day, while still helping to train our new group of apprentices so that they, too, can know everything there is to know about this new engine.“

Process Methods Engineer June Hosøy Simonsen is one of Ellen’s colleagues or “family members” at KAMS. They share the same passion for aviation.Photo: Njål Frilseth

“My role as a Process Methods Engineer is to support our maintenance crews with anything they need, and to act as an interface between them and the Operations side of the business,” Force says.“ This role can take many different forms, whether it’s implementing process changes to streamline a specific procedure, or to help the crews determine work priorities out on the floor, or to research new repair procedures to ensure we’re doing the work correctly, from the start.”

“To say it simple; we’re the problem solvers. It's the sort of role where you never know exactly what your day looks like when you arrive at work – anything could happen. I absolutely love that aspect of the job, because you need to be highly adaptable, and to quickly find solutions to a whole range of technical issues, to keep the crews out on the floor enabled to keep doing their jobs. It’s great fun,” says Force.

“I truly love to work directly with the mechanics on the shop floor. I get to see the different parts of the engine, get my hands on them and see what’s wrong with them - instead of only looking at it on a computer screen. I now get the opportunity to be on the shop floor and physically see the part.”

“Even if it was a huge life change, I know it was the right decision and I’m really glad I came”.

Could you elaborate on why you love the aviation business?

“What makes it particularly fun, are the people I work with. I couldn’t ask for a better group of colleagues. The folks in the aviation industry are very special people, with a genuine and deep passion for what they do. Nearly all my colleagues have aviation in their blood, and it shows in their dedication to their work. Nearly all of us worked on this engine’s predecessor, the F-100, which powered Norway’s previous fighter jet, the F-16. That engine was already well established and understood, when we were working on it, but now with the F-135, we all get to learn from the very beginning of this engine’s history, and it’s pretty exciting to be on the front line, so to speak.”

Facts:

Kongsberg Aviation Maintenance Services supplies maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services within the aviation industry for both military and civil organizations.

Kongsberg Aviation Maintenance Services at Rygge is the result of collaboration between the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, the F-35 Joint Program Office, KONGSBERG and Pratt & Whitney.

A total of 400 people are currently working in KAMS across their facilities located at Kjeller, Bardufoss and Rygge, and along with the rest of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, KAMS is also preparing for a higher workload and expansion of their workforce.

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