can't believe it's the last day!
After many part time jobs in pubs, I worked in a patent office, drafting patents and trade marks. Unluckily, I lost my job, but then worked for my local county council in the call centre, as a PA, in legal services and in data protection for Social Care. As an engineer, this is my first job, I’ve worked on EarthCARE, Lisa Pathfinder, Solar Orbiter and my current project is Plato.
Spacecraft Thermal Engineer
Airbus Defence and Space
Not too hot, not too cold, just right
There are two main reasons to keep spacecraft at the right tempeterature:
so that everything works as best it can, e.g. If you want to take a picture, batteries don’t opperate well below -10 degrees C, so you need to keep them above that.
to keep everything pointing correctly. If you cool a metal, it contracts, if you heat it, it expands, having both hot and cold areas means different parts of the structure have moved different amounts, putting, for example, a telescope on those points, as temperatures change where the telescope points changes.
In my job, I create computer models to help understand how heat moves around a spacecraft and how a spacecraft interacts thermally with its environment. I then work to apply that knowledge to the points above.
I work with lots of different disciples, to understand the materials we use, where power is applied, how much electricity I can use for heaters, what orbit the spacecraft will be in, how much fuel is used at each stage of a mission (amongst everything else!)
My Typical Day
Working with others and mostly on a computer
As I create computer models, most of my time is spent creating a model of the spacecraft I am currently working on. To make sure I create an accurate model, I work with people from all disciplines. From them I will find out lots of information I can use in model. Depending on what I want to find out, I may or may not use all that information – there are so many different things going on in a spacecraft, it would take too long to simulate everything, so I work out what is important and how I am going to represent that on my model.
Of course, when I have done all this work, I also write reports, so what we have learnt is not lost and we can be sure that everything is working as best it can.
What I'd do with the money
Create a “build a satellite” activity
I want to create a assembly satellite. It would be based on a “typical” rectangular prism, with typical electronics boxes to be added to that. Where the boxes are located on the various walls, what electrical cabling is needed, what surface finish (thermal engineering part) would have to be considered. Ideally, there would be a choice of different mission styles: telecommunications, Earth observations and telescope style (like Gaia), all requiring different things from the similar structure but all using the same basic principles. Worksheets would be developed to go with it, that would be suitable for a range of different abilities.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Quirky, silly, northern
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Seeing the project I’ve been working on being built
What did you want to be after you left school?
I had no idea, I was happy to see what happened next
Were you ever in trouble at school?
For not putting in enough effort at games/ PE.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Some kind of clockmaker
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I am currently really liking Bellowhead
What's your favourite food?
All of it! Although it’s probably cheese
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Having a day out with my best friend, in our homemade dresses (making the dresses was awesome too)
Tell us a joke.
What’s the fastest drink? Milk, because it’s “past-your-eyes” (sorry)