• Question: @Camilla do you think you can really help the engineering world?

    Asked by Ana JK to Camilla on 23 Jun 2015.
    • Photo: Camilla Weiss

      Camilla Weiss answered on 23 Jun 2015:

      Hi Ana, good talking to you earlier. I do think I can help the engineering world, although not necessarily by myself but as part of a team. In my company, SSTL, we build satellites in a slightly different way to a lot of other companies. Satellites, I’m sure you know, are generally big expensive things that can cost billions of pounds. There’s sometimes a good reason for this and that’s because space is a really hard place to get to and stay in – there’s all sorts radiation, temperature, debris problems which can affect your satellite so they are often very specifically designed and tested to cope with those things. At my company we specialise in smaller satellites which cost less but are just as capable as some of the larger satellites. This is because we use a lot of ‘off the shelf’ technology – parts you can pick up quite easily. This means we are often using technology in unusual ways – like building satellites from smartphones, or using technology from, say, an X-box to create satellites which can connect together in space to build bigger structures. If we can make satellites cheaper and easier to build it means more people can use them to help solve problems on Earth – for example, using our imaging satellites to track illegal deforestation, monitoring climate change, helping farmers farm large pieces of land by showing them which crops are growing well and which aren’t, or by providing internet and communications to areas which wouldn’t normally be able to get it. The best thing about engineering is knowing that what you’re working on is making a difference somewhere in the world.