Our Team

Our team consists of naval architects and marine engineers who all share a love for their area of expertise.  All of our employees are active members of professional societies and Steller Systems’ Managing Director is a Fellow of Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) and the Institution of Marine Engineers, Scientists and Technologists (IMarEST).

Robert Skarda MSc CEng FRINA FIMarEST RCNC, Managing Director

Robert has been working on complex systems within the defence industry since 1996 when he joined the UK Ministry of Defence as a naval architect.  After completing his MSc in Warship Naval Architecture and Submarine design from University College London, he spent time training at sea with the Royal Navy on HMS Boxer (a Type 22 frigate) during Operation Desert Fox in the Gulf and HMS Splendid (a Nuclear Attack Submarine) in the Atlantic.  Robert is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (FRINA) and the Institute of Marine Engineers, Scientists and Technologists (FIMarEST), a Chartered Engineer and a member of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors (RCNC).  Robert is a highly experienced naval architect and systems engineer and has in-depth knowledge of ship systems integration, integration analysis, systems testing and acceptance management.

Samantha Skarda, Director

Samantha has over 20 years’ experience in management, communications, recruitment, management training and leadership development.  She has a strong background in engineering and management, and facilitates open dialogue within the team.  Sam supports staff in their development, encourages innovation and facilitates open communication within the team and the upholding of family values within the company.  Responsible for company strategy, financial planning, team leadership, recruitment management, events management, office management and envisioning the future path for the company.  Sam is at the heart of our successful business, and uses her intuitive understanding of people to help create an environment in which exceptional individuals can thrive.

Kit Harris MEng AMRINA, Chief Engineer – Submarines

Kit worked as a naval architect in the MOD for 11 years before joining Steller Systems in March 2019. While in the MOD Kit worked on submarine projects covering all lifecycle stages, including the Dreadnought programme, the Naval Authority Group and In-Service submarines. Through these Kit has gained experience in the specification and design of a new submarine project, the safety assurance environment, and the in-service environment. Since joining Steller Systems Kit has acted as chief engineer for a steering and diving control system for a foreign submarine project, developed the concept of operations for numerous and varied platforms and investigated the use of gas generators during submarine flood recovery. Kit is an advanced user of a number of software packages, including Paramarine and Artemis, the MOD’s software used to create Safe Operating Envelopes for submarines, which he led the development of for several years.

Alec Rodgers MEng CEng MRINA, Chief Engineer – Surface Ships

Alec is a Naval Architect and Chartered Engineer with a background in defence and government consultancy, focused on concept and design development of novel vessels and systems. Alec has an in depth knowledge of MoD hazard management processes having developed systems for evolutions with inherent risks such as interceptor recovery and docking systems and multi-vessel at sea mooring systems for RN and RFA ships. Alongside hydrodynamic analysis and project management, Alec specialises in structural design, balancing manufacture and maintainability of structures with weight and performance. This includes non-linear and transient shock Finite Element techniques, as well as the use of advanced composites. Alec has applied such skills in the shock design of systems used on the majority of RN ships, such as the QEC, T45 and T26 platforms. Alec also has a particular interest in high speed craft and the modification of launch and recovery systems for unmanned operation.

Andrew Fay IEng IMarEng MIMarEST, Chief Marine Engineer

Andrew is a Marine Engineer with a wide range of experience of operating, specifying, drawing and building a great variety of vessels. He trained as  a Marine Engineer with Shell Tankers and gained sea time on a selection of large merchant vessels. After spells as a draughtsman specialising in fluidised bed furnaces and as a 5-axis CNC programmer specialising in complex 3D sculpted turbomachinery, Andrew  returned to Marine Engineering as a liaison engineer on the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier build project in Portsmouth. His subsequent marine engineering projects include the largest hovercraft built in the UK since the 1970s, a tension leg oil platform in Houston, a Floating Production, Storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, a selection of large luxury yacht builds in Poland, Romania, Germany and the Netherlands, and a very fast landing craft.

Stephen Pedder MPhys MInstP, Business Development Manager

After graduating from the University of Warwick with a first class Masters degree in Mathematics and Physics, Stephen joined the UK Ministry of Defence as a Research Scientist in the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl).  Starting in the Missile Countermeasures Department, before moving to the Land Systems Department, Stephen set up and managed technology research projects, including identifying and assessing innovative technologies, running Technology Seminar Wargames and running large-scale trials.  Stephen took part in International Research Collaboration, presenting Dstl’s research in Canada and Australia, observing foreign trials, and acting as Rapporteur on a NATO Industrial Advisory Group.  Stephen then joined Sula Systems, a Systems Engineering SME which became part of global engineering firm Jacobs.  Stephen’s projects included researching, analysing and managing the interfaces between systems, analysing system and technology maturity levels, and developing technology and capability roadmaps, as well as a long-term placement in MBDA. Stephen’s passion for developing solutions to varied problems led him into a placement within the Business Development Team, which quickly became permanent.  Stephen joined Steller Systems in 2012, where he works with the interdisciplinary team to develop solutions to customers’ problems.  As the longest serving employee Stephen also manages a number of areas of the company’s operations, including its ISO9001 Quality Management System.

Hugh Maclean MEng, Principal Engineering/Projects Manager

Hugh is a Naval Architect whose experience ranges from large defence projects (for BMT Defence Services’ Hydrodynamics Team) to high-speed tank testing of small interceptor or windfarm support vessels (at Seaspeed Marine Consulting) and taking a first prototype design through to production for long-endurance uncrewed surface vessels (at Autonaut). Hugh has experience working in defence, marine research, offshore renewables and oil and gas – whether it is concept design and feasibility studies, unique data analysis to understand performance parameters of new technologies or managing a small specialist engineering and production team producing new customer vessels. He has a masters in Ship Science from Southampton University and has since worked as a specialist naval architect and managing a multidiscipline engineering team.

David Pearson MEng CEng MIMechE MIMarEST, Principal Marine Engineer

David is a Chartered Engineer with a background in naval submarine and surface ship design and in-service support, with a specialty in the design and integration of auxiliary systems and a keen interest in low-carbon and efficiency technologies in the marine sector. He started his maritime career with BMT Defence & Security, and in that time worked on a broad range of military and commercial projects including RN Submarine Fleet in-service support, RFA Tide Class alterations, QEC System Safety cases and many modelling and design projects of innovative energy saving technologies, having published several papers and articles on the work for RINA and IMarEST. David has enjoyed working with a wide range of defence clients and shipyards in the defence community, both in project management and technical roles, and serves as an IMechE mentor to developing engineers. David has a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cardiff University.

Paul Gliddon MEng CEng MRINA, Principal Naval Architect

Paul is a Chartered Naval Architect with experience working within both consultancies and shipyards. Paul’s experience covers all parts of a project lifecycle from bid, concept design and optimisation through to build, commissioning, trials and support. Paul brings excellent analytical and problem-solving skills and a proven ability to utilise technical knowledge and experience to best effect. Before joining Steller Systems in 2021 he was working within a consultancy that used advanced tools and techniques from a recent British America’s Cup campaign and applied them to commercial ship design. His experience of innovation is underpinned by extensive experience of working in the defence industry, including in BAE Systems, VT Shipbuilding and Fleet Support Limited.

William Ainsworth MEng CEng MIMechE, Principal Engineer

Will is a Chartered Engineer specialising in naval submarine design and in-service support. He joined Steller Systems in May 2022 after almost 9 years with BMT Defence Services. Will has a broad range of experience of the UK naval submarine enterprise, having worked within BAE Systems, Babcock and the MoD Submarine Delivery Agency. He has also provided his expertise to the Canadian DND, and has supported a foreign submarine design programme. Will has a Master’s degree in Integrated Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from the University of Bath, and has built on this to develop a cross-disciplinary skill set through undertaking a wide variety of submarine-focused engineering activities. These range from the deeply technical (submarine concept design, system modelling and analysis, design changes, feasibility studies, ARM and FMEA studies, safety case development and advanced technology research) through to project management, team leadership and business development.

Lester Talbot MEng, Senior Naval Architect

Lester is a Naval Architect with six years’ experience working on defence projects. Prior to joining Steller Systems, Lester has worked at both BAE Systems and Longitude Engineering. His experience includes a wide variety of structural and stability disciplines with a particular focus on defence customers for both large surface vessels and small craft. He is proficient with Finite Element Analysis structural design and has conducted static and dynamic mooring analyses for both surface vessels and submarines. Lester graduated from Southampton University in 2015 with a degree in Ship Science – Advanced Materials.

Ross Gordon MEng AMRINA, Senior Naval Architect

Ross is a talented naval architect who joined us from the MOD Warship Support Team, having previously completed the DESG Graduate Scheme.  His experience spans both surface ships and submarines.  Ross supports a number of Steller Systems’ projects, in both the surface and subsurface domains.

Hannah Gibson MEng AMRINA, Senior Naval Architect

Hannah graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a degree in Naval Architecture with High Performance Marine Vehicles in 2017. Since then, Hannah has gained a broad range of experience in the development of small craft, from early concept designs through to manufacture and trials. Hannah has conducted a wide variety of stability assessments, is proficient with the use of CAD software and she also has experience in procurement and project management. Prior to joining Steller Systems, Hannah worked at BAE Systems where she was able to apply knowledge gained from commercial projects and was involved in the development of an autonomous vessel. Hannah also has a keen interest in sustainable materials and technologies and the application of these within the marine sector.

Alex Pardoe MEng AMRINA, Naval Architect

Alex joined Steller Systems after conducting two summer internships in the defence maritime sector. During his time in the company, Alex has been part of the team that has designed, built, and tested two uncrewed demonstrator vehicles and has also taken part in several concept designs. He has wide experience in arrangement design in 2D and 3D, including graphical representations of early stage models.

Amy Potter MEng SIMarEST, Naval Architect

Amy joined Steller Systems in 2021 following completion of MEng Marine Technology at Newcastle University. Since joining Steller Systems, Amy has been involved in a range of projects for both surface and subsurface vessels. Amy has partaken in several projects involving design from an initial concept stage up to the point of manufacture. Such projects have provided Amy experience of both structural FEA analysis and hydrostatic stability assessments. Amy also has a passion for marine engineering, taking her onboard an RFA vessel for fault diagnostics and conducting multiple alternative fuel and energy storage feasibility studies for a range of projects.

Alastair Wallace MEng, Graduate Naval Architect

Alastair joined us from the University of Southampton in 2021 where he graduated with a Master’s degree in Ship Science. During his degree Alastair completed projects like a sustainable solution for the Paris 2024 Olympic offshore keelboat, and the comparison of CFD and regression formulae to predict hull performance improvements. Alastair also developed a keen interest in autonomy though projects such as the Microtransat challenge and is looking forward to developing these skills further.