It's all over - sad sad times. Thanks to all of you students for making the last two weeks so manically enjoyable! Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!
My first proper engineering job was with SSTL (Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd) where I currently work but I have worked in many other places through the years of student poverty and in between degrees (mainly to fund my wanderlust) – book shops, restaurants, county councils, Department of Justice (not to be confused with the Justice League…), Media Access (which is subtitling, audio description, translation for TV and films), Au Pairing in Italy, MoD (Ministry of Defense – sadly not as cool as it sounds – just admin work), Tank Museums (definitely as cool as it sounds given that I was helping to organise TankFest!)
Digital Design Engineer
SSTL – Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd
I build spacecraft!
I work as a digital design engineer which basically means I’m an electronics engineer. I help to design, build and test modules like on board computers which are used to control the satellites we build. I’m currently working on a module which is designed to release a solar array once a spacecraft is lunched and also act as a safety processor in case something goes wrong with the satellite in space – you can’t just send someone up there to fix it so it has to be able to fix itself.
I started off on a graduate scheme which means I’ve been able to work in several different areas in satellite design. I started off in Space Environments which is where the thermal and radiation solutions are designed and I worked on the thermal design for TechDemoSat – a tehcnology demonstration mission which launched last year. I’ve also been involved in several radiation testing campaigns to test how some of the components we use will handle being in such a harsh radiation environment. I then moved to Mission Concepts which is where all the ‘blue sky’ thinking happens, all the ‘what if we could do this..?’ and ‘what would would happen if we tried this..?’ questions which lead to future mission ideas – here I worked on a nanosatellite constellation study. I spent some time in Moscow working on the commissioning (in orbit testing) of two satellites we built with Roscosmos (the Russian space agency) after they launched. I ended up in the On Board Data Handling team where all the electronics modules like computers, data storage, safety processors and payload interface units gets designed and decided this was a pretty cool area to learn more about. So that’s where I am now although I have recently been involved with systems testing on one of our constellations which is due to launch soon – DMC3. Systems testing is when all of the satellite’s components have been put together and the spacecraft is finally built and you have to test that it functions as you want it to – this is really interesting as you get a real overview of all the different areas involved in satellite design.
My Typical Day
There is no typical day! Depening on which project I’m working on I’ll either be in the lab, at my computer or in the main assembly hall.
What I'd do with the money
Design an outreach kit which allows users to design and implement a mission.
We do a lot of outreach events with schools at SSTL. I’d like to build a kit that everyone can use to show kids (and adults) how we design a mission, from choosing the payload and building the satellite to launching it and getting our payload data from space, as well as demonstrating potential applications.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Geeky. Curious. Sarcastic.
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Watching a satellite I’ve helped build get launched into space and then seeing it ‘talk’ to us from orbit (and also send us a nifty selfie video of it and the Earth as it’s released from the rocket).
What did you want to be after you left school?
Genuinely wanted to be an astronaut. I still do.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
My whole year was put on detention for a week once. I can’t even remember why but I’m fairly sure it started with ‘well we can’t all get in trouble if we all do it…’
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Probably something to do with design – I love the more creative side of engineering. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that arts and science are mutually exclusive.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Music is so mood dependant it’s hard to pick. At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Elbow and Radical Face. Looking forward to the new Muse album though.
What's your favourite food?
Basically I love anything that doesn’t involve mushrooms. Seriously, mushrooms?? Who thought that was ever a good idea?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
9 months travelling around SE Asia, China, Japan, Taiwan and India with my best friends and sister.
Tell us a joke.
How much does a hipster weigh? One instagram. Spagetti Lolonese!