Julia is working as a Human factors/MTO specialist at a leading European energy company
Julia graduated from the master’s programme in Technology, Work and Health in 2021. She is originally from South Korea but now lives in Stockholm where she is working as a MTO/Human Factors Specialist at the energy company Vattenfall.
Hi Julia, what are you working with at the moment?
I currently work as a Human Factors/MTO specialist at Vattenfall, a Swedish power company active in many European countries. I work in the Nuclear Safety Department in Stockholm. My main task is to ensure safety throughout plant development processes by considering various aspects of human-technology-organisation interaction. For example, the work may involve projects that affect the design of operator interfaces in control rooms for nuclear power plants. My job is to ensure that the operators have a satisfactory digital and physical work environment.
What can a regular day look like at your job?
My working day looks different depending on what type of project I work with and no day is the same as the other. I sometimes work from home, but primarily I work from the office in Solna, some 15 minutes away from the Stockholm City centre. Occasionally my work includes travelling to nuclear power plants such as Ringhals and Forsmark. The purpose of such site visits is often to conduct observations, interviews, or meetings with workers, engineers and clients. That is a part of my job that I like a lot.
Have you worked with anything else since you graduated?
Right after I finished my degree project, I worked at Spotify as a User Research Intern for three months. In this role, I identified potential needs and expectations of users in a specific context by conducting moderated in-depth interviews. I really appreciated the opportunity to learn by doing and having "real" project even as an intern, and also to get to know a bunch of lovely Spotifyers during the summer.
Why did you choose this programme at KTH?
I wanted to add a more creative skillset on top of my mechanical engineering background and the programme offered the perfect balance of engineering and cognitive science. In addition to having just the right combination of mandatory courses it also provided some flexibility in choosing other courses based on my interests. The programme is relatively new but has professors who have both industry experience and a strong research background, which I thought was great.
Are there any insights you acquired during your studies that have been extra useful for you in your career?
The programme was focused on hands-on practical projects, and we spent most of the time working with organisations and companies that desired advice from academia to tackle real-life problems. I believe this gave me additional confidence when facing similar assignments in my professional career. Furthermore, this way of working allowed me to make many interesting friendships and helped me build a network ahead of graduating.
What was the best aspects of your studies at KTH?
Having classmates from a broad spectrum of backgrounds is a bonus because they bring a wide range of perspectives when tackling multifaceted challenges during project work. I can bring some of these different approaches with me into my professional career, where teams often consist of colleagues with many other specialities. In the programme there were a lot of international students that also contributed to a much more exciting experience both in and outside of school. You can make friends from all over the world at KTH!
What is your best memory from your time at the universities?
A good example of a hands-on experience and one of my best memories from the master's programme was a collaboration we did together with the Stockholm Archipelago Foundation as a part of a product development course. Working together in a small group, we made on-site visits and developed real-life solutions to improve the working environment for the people who work to maintain the Stockholm Archipelago. The project tied together many different approaches ranging from in-depth interviews, observations and prototype development. We had a lot of fun working together off-campus and combining work with enjoying the beautiful nature in the Stockholm archipelago.
What would you want to say to a student thinking of applying for this programme?
This programme is good for students who are interested in understanding capabilities and limitations in humans from both a physical and psychological standpoint. It helps you learn how to optimise tools for addressing complex problems and facilitate people's daily lives. Human-centred design is not only limited to products or apps but encompasses the entire workplace. Many industries are interested in hiring engineers who also have an in-depth understanding of psychology. More and more organisations realise that user-centred approaches help them improve their products and services and make them more competitive. There are many different opportunities for graduates of this programme with a broad range of careers to choose from. If you are passionate about people and want to make people's lives easier, happier, or safer, go for it!