Dr Cristina Garcia-Duffy

Head of Technology - Strategy & Integration

Cristina’s passion for finding creative solutions to difficult problems and exploring ways to make a difference, along with her commitment and desire to progress, have enabled Cristina to advance her career as an engineer. Cristina chose engineering because of her keen interest in physics and applied maths, and as someone who enjoys working as part of a team.
Cristina has been committed to aerospace since she first began studying at university. Publishing papers early on in her post-graduate career provided Cristina with the opportunity to showcase her research work at various conferences and events. Presenting from an early stage gave Cristina the confidence to put forward her ideas and the ability to have constructive discussions with colleagues about her work.
“Putting yourself out there and asking an expert for feedback on your work isn’t always easy, but it’s something that I have always found extremely valuable. Applying the constructive feedback received from peers added value to my work.”
Cristina studied Aerospace Engineering at Saint Louis University in the USA, working as a Teaching Assistant while studying for a Master of Science. Cristina’s first experience of working with helicopters was during her MSc studies. The discovery of these truly amazing air vehicles was instrumental to defining her career path. Cristina was then awarded a full PhD scholarship with Washington University in St Louis. Here Cristina began working as a Research Assistant within the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering while completing her PhD dissertation on rotorcraft aerodynamics and dynamics.
“Rotorcraft are extremely versatile aircraft that are subjected to the most extreme conditions. The physics by which helicopters fly are amazingly complex and the challenges to keep them flying efficiently are huge. This is what attracted me to working with helicopters.”
Cristina’s industrial career started with AgustaWestland (now Leonardo) as Researcher and Project Manager within the Research and Technology Department. In 2010, Cristina took on the responsibility of Deputy Project Manager for a highly-innovative project, Project Zero, based at the company’s offices in Italy. The time-scales within the project were extremely challenging, but at the same time Cristina found it fulfilling and enjoyed working in a fast-paced dynamic environment.
Cristina thrived on working within a small, highly-talented team of experts who were able to achieve the delivery of a full technology validation platform in less than a year. The first phase of the project developed a flying unmanned, electric, tilt-rotor aircraft that included a number of innovative technologies. The conclusion of that work brought the unmanned demonstrator from conception to its first tethered flight, which took place in June 2011. With phase one successfully completed, Cristina returned to the UK to take up the role of manager for the company’s research centres, where she led activities for a number of university collaborations.
After five years with AgustaWestland, Cristina joined the Aerospace Technology Institute in 2014 – initially as Technology Manager, before promotion to her current role. As Head of Technology Cristina leads a team of three technologists. Her role is to lead technology strategy, road mapping, and take ownership of cross-cutting technology areas such as infrastructure for testing.
Cristina always seeks to get the best out of what she does. As a competitive individual driven by results, Cristina thrives on being able to make a difference to challenging scenarios. Being a sociable person she really enjoys the engagement aspect of her role – establishing and developing relationships with the UK aerospace community to help develop future innovation plans.
Cristina is very ambitious for the future of the sector and encourages young people with an interest in engineering to consider a career in the aerospace sector. “Technologies have advanced incredibly during the last century, making step changes in performance harder with each new incremental development on current aircraft designs. This means that we need to re-invent aircraft and business models to continue satisfying market needs.

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