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Its only Rocket Science

Ask me anything I’m a rocket scientist!

I used to love saying that to people (I was a teenager at the time!). Now that a few years have passed I say it less, however I do love telling people about my career in the space industry because they never stop reminding me of how, cool, amazing, unbelievable (and many more superlatives) my career sounds. STEM subjects helped me pursue my dream, I have lived abroad, travelled the world and things I have touched are now in space. This post will provide more information on me and my education and first job and will hopefully provide inspiration for you and your children.

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School & University

My love for STEM started started with a love of problem solving and fixing things. I loved LEGO and built entire towns with my little sister. At school I studied the three sciences to Standard Grade and then Biology, Physics, German, Maths and English at Higher. When it came to my<a
degree I was influenced by the advent of the internet and studied a degree in Computing & Electronics at Heriot Watt University . On graduation I took a job developing software to test new mobile phone networks, however it just wasn’t for me. At that time I dreamed of working for NASA, I’d been lucky enough to visit Florida and the space program when I was a child but I had always assumed I needed to be American. I was lucky to find a Masters Degree in Astronautics & Space Engineer at Cranfield University and was accepted to study in the summer of 2000. This degree not only gave me the qualifications in space engineering but the confidence to strike out on my own and head off to work abroad.

 

My First Job

My first job was at a place called EUMETSAT . I was based in Germany and my job involved preparing for a new space mission. My satellite was called METEOSAT-8.

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I used my problem solving skills and my new found space engineering knowledge to design procedures for setting up the ground station to talk to the satellite. This means I controlled the movement of the huge satellite dishes and the connection from ground to the satellite. As I developed my experience I moved on to developing the procedures for setting up the satellite. This involved deciding what pictures the satellite would take or how we would turn the heaters on and off. Everything I worked on was tested many many times and then it was ultimately used on the real life satellite which is 35,000km away from Earth. The satellite is still working today over 10 years since it went into space. Over those years it has taken pictures and gathered data for weather forecasting and climate modelling and back in 2003/2004, it was one of the satellites that provided images for the UK weather forecast.
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