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Tern Around: Employee Spotlight on Women in Engineering with Hófi

Did you know women represent 30% of employees at Tern Systems? Although we’re celebrating International Women in Engineering Day this Friday, we are always proud to have a strong representation in the field! To recognise these amazing women, we interviewed a couple of engineers who braved the spotlight to share their inspiring stories. Look out for more interviews in the future.

Our first guest is Hófi, an Iceland native who has lived in a handful of countries and studied for her Masters abroad before settling back in Iceland. She currently works as a Research Engineer at HQ during the day and loves spending time with her family outdoors when she isn’t working.

Please introduce yourself: what’s your name, what’s your position at Tern and how long have you been at the company?

My name is Hólmfríður, but I’m called Hófi. I’ve been working at Tern Systems for just over a year. I started doing my master's thesis here and then after I was offered a position as a Research Engineer.

What was your thesis about?

My thesis had a really long name. And it was: An adaptive IMM-UKF method for non-cooperative tracking of UAVs from data radar. Basically what that was, was designing a tracker, so a Kalman filter-based tracker, for drone tracking. It was looking at the tracker that we have used to track aircraft and then adjusting it and looking for ways to make it better for drone tracking.

What does your day-to-day look like at the office?

It’s 50/50 what my main focus is. I think half of the time I’m doing more internal research. So I’ve been working a little bit with the trajectory modeller and doing validations on that. And then the other 50 percent is looking more into more research projects. So we’ve been working on SEASAR projects and other types of European projects.

How has your role evolved since joining the company?

It started kind of slow. There was not a specific focus on what I was doing. But now the focus has narrowed and we have a better direction within the research department. And we’re also expanding. We’re getting new Research Engineers, so it will be interesting to see how things develop from that.

What are some challenges in your role and how do you overcome them?

In the beginning - being new in the ATM domain - there was a lot of new concepts that I didn’t understand. I had more of a technical engineering background but not much expertise in air traffic management. That was a steep learning curve, but I think it’s getting easier and easier every day now that I’m becoming more familiar with all the acronyms and all the different components of the ATM world. The way I overcame that was asking a lot of questions. Doing a lot of Googling, and then also bugging my coworkers for explanations and getting as many answers from them as I could.

Do you have advice for those seeking a career in research?

Within research, it’s always good to have some kind of academic background. Doing some kind of Master’s degree will always help, because essentially what you’re doing in your thesis is that you’re doing a mini research project. You’re doing a background analysis, doing a plan and implementing and getting results. And that’s what we’re doing in these larger research projects. But I think anyone can become a research engineer if they’re interested in doing it. Just if you’re interested in solving problems and looking into new technologies, I think it’s good to stay current, see what technologies are on the uprise, what the newest thing is, what will help you.

What’s an interesting fact about yourself that others don’t know?

I have travelled a lot and lived in many countries. I was born in Iceland. Then I lived in Scotland, then England, then Belgium. Then I moved back to Iceland. When I was 18, I was an au pair in France and then more recently I also lived in Sweden when I was doing my Masters. So I’ve travelled quite a bit, lived in many countries and speak a few languages!


I like being outside. I like exercising in nature. I like going for walks- that’s what I do a lot of the time. I like to go to the swimming pools. Not always swimming - sometimes I do that - but just being outside gives me the most energy.

Rapid fire questions: This or That

Early bird or night owl? Early bird

Beach or mountains? Beach

Sweet or savoury? Sweet

Books or movies? Movies

City or country? Country

Comedy or drama? Drama

Dancing or singing? Dancing

Hiking or swimming? Swimming

Road trip or air travel? Air travel

Netflix YouTube? Netflix


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