Meet Commander Sturdy, CSM

17 August 2023

When Commander Sturdy was in school, she found joy in solving math problems, exploring the laws of physics and experimenting in the chemistry lab. Little did she know, these subjects would lead her to an incredible adventure on the high seas and beneath them. 

Commander Sturdy studied hard and followed her curiosity, completing a Materials engineering and Materials Science double degree. She enjoyed her work experience in the oil and gas industry, but it was her discovery of Navy engineering in her last year of university that truly ignited her career. Commander Sturdy’s first sea posting was on the guided missile frigate HMAS Newcastle, but she found herself seeking even more of a challenge, and followed her passion into the challenging and rewarding world of submarines.
After becoming a qualified submariner and earning her ‘dolphins’ on the Collins Class Submarine HMAS Sheean in 2014, Commander Sturdy completed further sea training and a shore posting as the Submarine Certification Manager, collating the technical evidence that each submarine is safe to return to sea after major maintenance periods. She achieved her Marine Engineering Charge Qualification and then returned to Sheean, this time as the Head of the Marine Engineering Department. For almost three years Commander Sturdy led a hardworking department of passionate marine technicians and enjoyed the most challenging and fulfilling experiences of her career to date, as one of the first few female Engineering Officers in Australian Submarines. 
Commander Sturdy then posted into a submarine sustainment role and later that year was recognised for her role on Sheean with a Conspicuous Service Medal. In 2020 she also won the Women in Defence Award for the Engineering Category, and a Women in Technology WA Tech [+] 20 award. Commander Sturdy then had the chance to build her technical and professional knowledge further on the ADF Capability and Technology Management Program, earning a Master’s degree and learning about all aspects of Defence Technology, outside of her submarine specialisation.  
Commander Sturdy is now the Deputy Director of Nuclear Submarine Workforce Development, building nuclear technical roles to be filled by many young Australians looking for challenge, excitement, and a STEM career to be deeply proud of.

Commander Sturdy remains involved with Women in Technology WA and works with Questacon educators and primary school teachers as part of the Engineering is Elementary program, as well as regularly conducting school and university outreach programs.  Commander Sturdy has a strong desire to help others discover the joys of STEM and wants to see young people exploring these subjects, asking questions, celebrating their curiosity and discovering their path just as she did.