After SpaceMaster: Research Engineer at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics
While having several years of university studies behind me already – as well as 10 years of background in a different industry than space – the SpaceMaster program has been one of the most rewarding learning experiences of my life. With a background in building engineering, it was hard to find a natural way into the space industry. The program provided a great opportunity for me to finally pursue a long-neglected passion.
My two years in the SpaceMaster program coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, which created additional challenges for both the students and the staff at LTU. Despite this, all the teachers managed to find ways to maintain the high standard of their courses, and to help the students through a challenging and unfamiliar way of studying.
The program is very flexible in terms of course selection, and very supportive of extracurricular projects. I chose a technical profile with many engineering focused courses. The master thesis project is encouraged to be done in collaboration with industry or research institutes. I was fortunate enough to find an opportunity at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) – which is to a high degree thanks to the close collaboration between LTU and IRF – where I could focus on combining the knowledge that I had gained from courses in space physics with my interest in machine learning. During my thesis work, I got to know many people at IRF and I was able to find a position as research engineer at the institute after graduation – with a focus on software development and space weather.
The mix of students from all over the world – with different undergraduate backgrounds – creates a dynamic and creative environment. You will learn much more than what is in the syllabus of the courses. And you will make many new friends, who will also be part of your future professional network.
An additional advantage of the SpaceMaster program is the location in Kiruna. With the IRF in the same building, and with ESRANGE just a few kilometers away, there are many opportunities for internships and study visits. And as a bonus, Kiruna is also a great place if you want to watch the beautiful displays of the aurora borealis.
As a whole, I am very happy with the program and thankful that I got the chance to participate in it. I would recommend it to anyone who is passionate about space – regardless of if you have a scientific or engineering background.
Philipp Wittmann (Round 10)
Before starting my Bachelor’s degree in Würzburg, Germany, I already heard about SpaceMaster and had decided for myself that I wanted to join this program. My first SpaceMaster semester then was in Würzburg, Germany, followed by three semesters in Kiruna, Sweden. I decided to stay in Kiruna for my third semester because I found the courses they offered and the environment very interesting, and after I got a possibility to do my Master's thesis on a prototype of a part of an instrument which should fly to Mars, I was more than willing to stay for another semester. In addition to the unique location and environment during the studies in Kiruna, it was also possible to build up contacts with industry and research institutes, namely IRF, EISCAT and ESRANGE. During the studies we had visits to their facilities and had the chance to interact with the staff on their side.
These contacts then allowed me to continue at IRF in Kiruna as a PhD student in experimental physics. My task now is to assemble, test and calibrate an instrument, which is part of the 'Particle Environment Package' on board ESA's JUICE mission, which will fly to Jupiter in 2022.
SpaceMaster gave me the possibility to meet people from across the world and gave me experiences on how to work in an international team. During the time in Kiruna, we built up deep connections to one another. This gave me friends all across the world and in addition, wherever you go within ‘Space’ Europe you will encounter other SpaceMasters, which may not be from the same round but had similar experiences as you.
Ricardo Moreno Ruano (Round 5)
Internships: IRF, Kiruna, Sweden; Astrium, Ottobrunn, Germany
After SpaceMaster: Thales Alenia Space, Madrid, Spain
After graduating with a MSc. of Telecommunications in Spain, I joined SpaceMaster in order to give my career a more vocational view and international experience.
SpaceMaster gave me the opportunity to live in four different countries, move six times and learn three languages in two years’ time.
Personally I fondly remember studying Space Dynamics in the library, among a mixture of physicists, mathematicians and engineers, each of us solving and explaining one problem applying our own studies, but all getting to the same solution. At that moment I understood what multidisciplinary means.
I experienced a vertiginous tour around Europe (and Japan) moving every 6 months or less from one country to another, learning a new language and facing new bureaucratic challenges. I took every opportunity I had at hand in order to widen my experience: I took internships at the IRF (in Kiruna) and at Astrium (currently Airbus Defense and Space, in Ottobrunn).
After those two years my professional CV changed completely: really specialized in the space sector, with experience in both scientific institutions and industry, knowledge of actors and stakeholders in the European space sector and with an engineering systems point of view.
After a short experience at a subcontractor company in Toulouse, I enrolled at Thales Alenia Space in Spain, near Madrid. Since then, I have moved my post every two years, always related to microprocessor architectures: starting in R&D mock-up design, follow-up of subcontractors, technical responsible for electronic units and finally my current post as payload architect. I even have a patent, officially becoming an inventor.
In summary, SpaceMaster prepares you to be part of today's dynamic industrial world, apart from providing you unforgettable personal experiences.
First Year: JMUW, Würzburg and LTU, Kiruna
Second Year: UT3, Toulouse and DLR, Bremen
I am working as a Research Scientist at the German Space Agency (DLR), in the Institute of Space Systems in Bremen, where I also did my internship in the final semester. I focus on Nano-landers for Small Solar System Bodies and the Data Analysis of MASCOT, a nano-spacecraft that visited Ryugu, a near-Earth asteroid, in 2018. I believe that the dynamic, inter-disciplinary and multi-national SpaceMaster programme has helped me harness a unique and up-to-date skill-set that has prepared me for the current job demands in the space sector. The vast spectrum of courses on spacecraft sub-systems and on data analysis and simulation tools were very beneficial. No course was purely theoretical and the hands-on training that we got was extremely valuable. To name a few memorable experiences, we got to build a FloatSat in Würzburg (first semester), analyse ionospheric data from an EISCAT network antenna and simulate the space environment using ESA software in Kiruna (second semester), and build a stratospheric balloon payload and launch it with the French Space Agency (CNES) in Toulouse (third semester).
What makes this programme exceptional is the opportunity to study in the heart of chief aerospace centres across Europe and to collaborate with industry. In Würzburg and Kiruna, we had lecture-demonstrations with engineers from ESA, Airbus, IRF, MIT (USA), EISCAT and many others. In Kiruna, we also saw what we studied about Solar Physics in the form of the mesmerising auroras. Parallel to this, I made life-long friendships and visited places like Luleå, Abisko National Park, Tromsø and the Lofoten Islands, to: experience the Arctic landscape; get a glimpse of the Sami life; trek around the Norwegian Fjords; camp in knee-deep snow in the Swedish glacier valleys; and ice-skate on the Baltic Sea. In Toulouse, our institute was in the midst of the aerospace hub. We visited important sites, heard from scientists about their role in recent missions to Mars and learned multiple types of simulation software from experienced engineers. Alongside this enriching academic exposure, I also got an opportunity to become acquainted with French culture and explore the Pyrenees.
As an aspiring space engineer, it was also very special to visit ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt and represent LTU at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne during their first Summer Showcase. Moreover, I networked with SpaceMaster Alumni at various conferences and it was inspirational to hear about their exciting roles in the development of the future of space and earth observation. Overall, the memories I made during the last two years are unforgettable and I deeply cherish the entire journey that we fondly call SpaceMaster.
Shehna Sagaria (Round 12)
After SpaceMaster: Thermal Engineer at Space Structures GmBH, Berlin, Germany
SpaceMaster was an incredible experience, more of an opportunity to grow and learn and to understand the vast group of people in aerospace.
The mix of people from 12+ countries under a single roof, trying to put together a working pico satellite during the first semester was not just a learning experience, but more of a cultural outlook into what to expect in an international work environment. Also, the mix of engineers from different fields helped me to understand the importance of each subsystem that goes into a space system, and also to realize the interconnections between them.
Intellectually and socially, The semester in the bone wrecking cold of Kiruna helped to convert our group of friends to a family, depending on each other and to enjoy what was available. I completed this course in 5 different cities, out of which my semesters were in Wûrzburg, Kiruna and Toulouse and internships in Montpellier and Bremen. The opportunity and exposure these experiences gave me were incredible, helped me to understand the nuances of what goes into making a space project successful. In short, SpaceMaster changed my outlook, gave me great friends and helped me to grow into a better individual, and mostly into a better engineer.
Anirudh Mukund Saraf (Round 12)
SpaceMaster has been an enriching experience, personally and professionally. My motivation to pursue this programme resonates my passion for developing systems for space exploration. SpaceMaster has fuelled my journey to explore this passion and has been a perfect bridge between my bachelors in mechanical engineering and the exciting field of space science and technology.
During the programme, I lived in three countries: Germany, Sweden, and Denmark where I got an opportunity to explore the lengths and breadths of this fascinating field, from rocket propulsion and space instruments to market disrupting nanosatellites. Over and above that, I had an invaluable experience of learning about new cultures, languages and making friends from all over the world. Moving from tropical temperatures of 37 degrees in India to minus 27 in the winter wonderland of Kiruna was no doubt a challenge, but it was worth every degree.
Space industry in Europe has a very international setting and SpaceMaster has prepared me to perform well in it. Over the course of two years, the programme involved activities in which one had to work efficiently, both individually and in a team, which is a skill particularly useful in a space-related job. In our first semester, we were introduced the space systems by experts from the industry. This helped me to get a system level knowledge of each subsystem and more importantly helped me a choose a subsystem to specialize in. In the summer after my second semester, I interned with DLR's Rocket Propulsion department, where I worked on the design of turbopumps. Further, in my final semester, I completed my master thesis with GomSpace working on the thermal design optimization of nanosatellites after which I joined the same company as a thermal engineer. Now I work on the thermal design and analysis of nanosatellites by simulating orbit scenarios and predicting temperatures of components of the satellite.
In all, I believe that SpaceMaster has played a pivotal role in helping me to develop my personal and professional skills and the two years I have spent during this course have been among the best in my life. I am very glad that I decided to take up the SpaceMaster programme and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow spacemasters and the wonderful SpaceMaster staff for making it a splendid experience!
SpaceMaster has been a unique experience for me which led me to new opportunities in space business. As I had a background in electronics engineering, the broad spectrum of lectures in the first year were especially useful to get familiar with fundamentals of space science and technology.
Later in the third semester, I chose to stay in Kiruna as it is a very active university in student projects such as the REXUS/BEXUS program. The support and resources available from LTU was very encouraging for students to pursue their own projects and ideas. Kiruna is also a unique place with proximity and connections to scientific institutes such as IRF and EISCAT as well as the rocket launch facility ESRANGE. These connections led me to pursue my masters thesis at IRF where I got hired after graduation. As of 2019, I am working at IRF as an engineer on a scientific instrument which will go on-board the European Space Agency's Jupiter (JUICE) mission.
I believe the strength of the program comes from the multidisciplinary and international aspect, during the projects within the courses throughout the program, we always had to work as a team with people from different backgrounds with different nationalities. I have no doubt that these experiences have been an extremely valuable asset for my work skills.
Mushfiqul Alam (Round 7)
I am currently working as postdoctoral research associate at the Flight Science and Technology (FST) research group at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. My current research areas focus on: nature inspired flight control systems, inertial sensors and data fusion, nonlinear system dynamics and controls, active control of flexible aircraft and rotorcraft.
After finishing the SpaceMaster programme (Round 7), I pursued a PhD degree at the Department of Measurement, Czech Technical University, Czech Republic. My dissertation thesis was titled, “Adaptive Data Processing in Aircraft Control”, which I defended with “departmental recognition” for outstanding research achievements. My SpaceMaster studies were fully funded through the Erasmus Mundus Fellowship awarded by EACEA, EU Commission. During SpaceMaster, out of many options to specialize, I obtained specialization in Systems and Controls.
SpaceMaster provides an excellent opportunity for enhancing personal and professional learning experience during a Master’s programme. For example, the multinational cultural diversity the course brings through students and academics is truly exceptional and is worth experiencing. In addition, collaboration with a few of the world’s leading research institutions and aerospace companies provides a wide range of networking opportunities. A well comprehended course like SpaceMaster certainly increases your employability and prepares you for a position in academia or in aerospace industry.
Sergio Martín del Campo Barraza (Round 6)
After SpaceMaster: Post-Doc at Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
I graduated with a B.Sc. in Mechatronic Engineering in 2007 from ITESM Campus Guadalajara, Mexico. Immediately after, I started to work as Design Engineer at GE Aviation where I designed, certified and validated sensors used in aircraft engines. However, my curiosity for space, living an international experience, and further my education remained with me. Thus, I decided to apply to the SpaceMaster program, which I was admitted and I started in 2010. First, I moved to Würzburg where I had a great time in my first international experience. Afterwards, I moved to Kiruna for the second semester. An experience that truly changed my life for the best. I had always wanted to live in an exotic place and for me any place with snow was exotic enough.
My time in Kiruna is full of sweet memories and friendships that remains with me now. I enjoyed my second semester in Kiruna and decided to stay there for my second year in the engineering track. During all this time, I had the opportunity to participate in an ESA BEXUS campaign and to do an internship at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics. When the time came for my Master thesis, I had the opportunity to go to Japan and do my work at ISAS-JAXA on the calibration of a sensor part of the BepiColombo mission to Mercury. The two years of the SpaceMaster program flew by faster than I would had liked.
After SpaceMaster, I became a PhD student at Luleå University of Technology – Luleå Campus. My PhD was on machine learning for industrial applications and I completed it in 2017. It seems like I had been around many different areas but I do not see it this way. My entire education has revolved around sensors. During my time at bachelors and GE, I learned about the electrical and mechanical aspects of sensor design. In SpaceMaster, I had the opportunity to learn of the science behind the operation of any sensors. Finally, in my PhD, I learned what I can do with the data I gather from sensors. Thus, my education has allowed to go through the whole circle of sensor design, development and use. Now, I am still at LTU working as a Post-Doc and forever thankful to SpaceMaster for all the friendships and opportunities that it gave me.
Maike Neuland (Round 5)
After I graduated from my physics studies in Germany, I was torn between starting a PhD or a job directly and continuing my studies in a more specialized field. During the physics studies I was most motivated in the subjects of particle and astroparticle physics, cosmology and air shower experiments. When I got the confirmation of being selected for the SpaceMaster programme, I was so excited. The two years of SpaceMaster studies not only gave me a broad knowledge in the field of space science and technology, planetology and space physics, but also in personal skills. I did not only get to know many of my very good friends but also many professionals and splendors in the field of space research. The experience of studying and living in very special places, like Kiruna in the very North of Sweden, made this time for me unique. On the one hand having international dinners in Würzburg, seeing the northern lights in Kiruna, exploring the Pyrenees near Toulouse and finally going snowboarding in the Swiss Alps, but also on the other hand visiting ESA headquarters, the Esrange rocket launch site and getting an internship in the rocket propulsion section of DLR during the summer break made these two years a perfect time in balance between studying, exploring and experiencing. After Spacemaster I did a PhD in Bern/Switzerland in the Division of Space Research and Planetary Sciences, where I also did my Master Thesis. I was working on laser mass spectrometry for planetary exploration. First with a fellowship funding and now as an employee I am back at IRF Kiruna working on instrumentation and testing facilities for future space instruments.
A few years ago I couldn't have imagined that I one day I would be standing as a teacher in that room at LTU, where I was sitting as a student myself. Teaching courses in the SpaceMaster programme it is great to see that the SpaceMaster family keeps growing.
I have a strong network of SpaceMaster friends all around the world and wherever I go to present my work at a conference around Europe, I can be sure to run into a handful of SpaceMasters!
Abrar Baluch (Round 4)
After SpaceMaster, I went immediately for a PhD. After completing my PhD in aerospace engineering from KAIST Korea, I worked there for a few years in the R&D industry. Later I was working for 2-3 years with IMDEA Materials in Madrid, Spain.
I then came back to my home country and joined the Institute of Space Technology, a public sector university in Islamabad, Pakistan as an Associate Professor.
My journey started in August 2007, when I moved from Iran (my home country) to Germany and started my first semester in the SpaceMaster program. With an electrical engineering background, I found it rather difficult at the beginning to cope with physics related courses. However, I did not give up! I worked hard and studied harder and a few years later, I found myself giving lectures in physics courses to the new rounds of SpaceMaster! There are certain periods in everyone's life that are memorable forever, and the two years of SpaceMaster is undoubtedly one of those in my life. This is not only because I enjoyed the time I spent with my SpaceMaster friends from many different countries around the world and got to learn about their different cultures, and was thrilled by the quality of the lectures, but also because the SpaceMaster program opened new gates to my future career and education in space physics. After graduation, I was enrolled in a PhD program in space physics in Sweden, and then moved to the University of California at Berkeley and NASA Ames Research Center as a postdoctoral researcher. At the time of this writing, it is about a decade since I graduated from the SpaceMaster program, and wherever I have travelled, either to a conference or visiting space companies, I have seen SpaceMasters from different rounds, working either as engineers or researchers!
Pooja Mahapatra (Round 3)
I graduated from SpaceMaster 10 years ago, in 2009. Thereafter, I pursued a PhD in satellite remote sensing at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, successfully defending it in 2015. I am currently working in the energy sector, exploring the use of remote sensing and geospatial analytics in a variety of new and exciting applications.
SpaceMaster was a wonderful experience, both professionally and personally. It enabled me to channel my background in electrical engineering towards space technology, through excellent lectures, educative study trips and challenging project work, in an international, multicultural and multilingual setting. SpaceMaster also provided me with exposure to the heart of Europe's space industry through internships at the European Space Agency (ESTEC) and the Fraunhofer Institute. In addition, it helped me make friends and professional contacts all over the world, and gave me the extraordinary experience of Arctic life!
Martin Siegl (Round 3)
After graduation from Round 3 of SpaceMaster, I first spent a year as a Young Graduate Trainee at ESA before starting as a project manager at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Space Systems in Bremen. Through SpaceMaster, I had already come in contact with Esrange in Kiruna and had worked with stratospheric balloon and sounding rocket experiments. These types of instruments and missions were amongst my first project responsibilities at DLR. Rocket launches at Esrange therefore made me return to Kiruna many times even after completing SpaceMaster.
Currently I am a project manager in Space Systems Engineering at TNO in Delft, The Netherlands. The majority of my projects is in optical Earth observation instrumentation, and laser satellite communication. It is very rewarding to be able to contribute to cutting-edge optical space instruments that address current societal questions with their measurements, such as greenhouse gas emissions or air pollution around the globe. With laser satellite communication, the question of how to transmit the ever-increasing amount of satellite data will hopefully be solved.
SpaceMaster had given me an inspiring and solid foundation as a start into the space business, by conveying a broad view of all matters and aspects of space. A very important part of the SpaceMaster experience was the international and multi-cultural outlook of the programme and of fellow students, and the doors SpaceMaster had opened through project work and the Master's thesis. SpaceMaster and the time in Kiruna are therefore something that I look back on with a lot of positive feelings and happiness!
Fernando J. Capalbo, MSc. (Round 4)
I was born and grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the end of high school I started to wonder what I really wanted to do and lots of questions came to my mind. I then decided to study nature and try to find answers to some of those questions. Among the ways humankind has for this I chose science, particularly physics. At the end of my physics degree I started to get more and more interested in space. After graduating I worked in the Argentinean Space Agency, where I was intern before. I was also a teacher at the University of Buenos Aires. I planned to pursue further education in Europe, and looked for PhD and MSc. opportunities in the space science field, with a practical approach. I was accepted for the Erasmus Mundus SpaceMaster course and scholarship. This opened me the door to get in touch with high quality European researchers and industry professionals in the Space science and technology field. But SpaceMaster also provided the opportunity for traveling around Europe, experiencing life in different countries and, most important, meeting people from different places and cultures and to share unforgettable experiences. I had classmates from all over the world I will always remember, and the opportunity to find friends among them. Nowadays I am doing a PhD in atmospheric physics, analyzing Titan's atmosphere, a position I find very interesting and enjoyable.
Although there are still things to improve in the program, SpaceMaster provided me with knowledge, work experience, a European space science and technology panorama and a useful contact network. I also experienced a multicultural environment from which I learned and which gave me a new view of the world and people in it. I am very glad I had the opportunity of going through this wonderful academic and life experience.
Astrid Horn (Round 1)
Current position: PhD in Engineering at the University of Magdeburg, together with DLR Cologne and EADS Astrium (up to and including March 2010) System Engineer at EADS Astrium, Friedrichshafen (April 2010)
Previous studies: Diploma in Biology
2nd year University: Kiruna
I got a second direction of study with the SM studies, and my master thesis led to the following PhD. The combination of a scientific and an engineering background is rare and turns out to be very useful, and it definitely gave me much broader carrier options. I would only recommend this for people who are already very interested in engineering and technology, as starting with something so different in such a short time is a challenge.
Jan Hakenberg (Round 2)
My motivation to enroll in the SpaceMaster program was to learn about the engineering of space systems together with students from all over the world. Previously, I had just finished a degree in mathematics with little focus on applicability.
I spent the second year of the program in Helsinki in order to work on electronic circuits and mobile robots. My thesis work investigated and implemented the mobility of Marsokhod, a robot that had originally been intended to navigate on Mars.
The academic highlights of the SpaceMaster course to me were to design and build a CanSat, as well as to compete in a field and service robot competition. To face these challenges in small dynamic teams was such a rewarding experience.
After graduating, I was employed by EADS Astrium to develop and maintain tools for the testing of satellites (Lisa Pathfinder, Earthcare, ...) based in Friedrichshafen and Toulouse.
I am still in touch with a lot of my fellow students and already managed to visit five of them in their home countries.
Mark Fittock (Round 3)
After SpaceMaster: Project Engineer at DLR
Near the end of my studies for mechanical engineering, mathematics, and astrophysics in Australia, I learnt about the SpaceMaster programme and thought that it sounded interesting and that, maybe a few years after graduation, it might be a useful programme to join. Luckily for me, I decided to hunt down some more information about the course and, in true “carpe diem” style, realized that the best time to do it was right away.
Beginning the study in Germany, moving to Kiruna (where I stayed for my second year), and moving finally to the north of Germany for my thesis was a huge culture shock for me, the sheer number of cultural backgrounds of the students takes many by surprise. Despite early difficulties, adjustment comes with time and I learnt to appreciate it. With many different cultural and educational backgrounds, there is much to learn from your fellow students, from integration and high-level physics to cocktails that you’ve never seen before! Forming close bonds with many other students was a huge advantage for studying a demanding course in a foreign country; without the friends I made in SpaceMaster, I would not be where I am today.
Now, I work for the German Aerospace Center (DLR) at the Institute of Space Systems. I was lucky enough to participate and launch an experiment on board a high-altitude balloon in the REXUS/BEXUS student programme with four other SpaceMasters. Through this I found a thesis at DLR and after completing my study, was asked to apply for a position. I work as a project engineer for REXUS/BEXUS and other sounding rocket programmes. Every day I use knowledge that I acquired during SpaceMaster, you realize that the hard work pays off though in understanding many facets of the space industry that you would not have been exposed to otherwise.
I’ll always be glad I made the decision to join SpaceMaster. It gave me the boost to launch my career in the space industry.
Jean-Dominique Coste (Round 2)
After SpaceMaster: Columbus Payload Integration Engineer at Astrium Space Transportation
I am now starting a career within the Human Spaceflight program, working on integration and project coordination of payloads for Europe’s main space outpost: the Columbus laboratory onboard the International Space Station. This work involves interaction with international project teams, astronauts, ESA and NASA. It blends engineering, science and management aspects in a multicultural context: exactly what SpaceMaster prepares for.
I entered SpaceMaster with a BSc. in Applied Physics, which portrayed me as a “scientist” in the group. I have been very interested in the integrated science/engineering approach developed in the program, particularly in Kiruna where I spent my second year. I choosed a combined track, and obtained a deep understanding in “what do we look for in space and why”, and “how do we do it”. It is indeed crucial for a scientist to know what are the engineer’s capabilities and expectations, and vice-versa. This has been a focal point in the teaching and is one of the reasons that make this program unique. The fascinating and challenging student team projects also gave me precious hints in international project management – along with dedicated lectures in Kiruna.
I entered the space professional world at ESA for my master thesis, and from now on at Astrium. I can say without a doubt that SpaceMaster prepares students best for this business, as it is tailored to its particular needs: global understanding of the various fields, of the interaction between the different players involved, specialization in one area, and smooth handling of international cooperation.
Last but not least, SpaceMaster is a life-changing, mind-opening experience on a personal point of view. It gathers brilliant, passionate and like-minded young individuals that maintain a stimulating and truly enjoyable atmosphere not only for the 2-year course but long after graduation days are gone. Seriously…Join us !
David Leal Martínez (Round 3)
David graduated from Electronic Systems Engineering, a bachelor’s degree which is a mixture of computer science and electronics focusing on robotics and artificial intelligence, at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Monterrey, Mexico. Afterwards he worked in the fields of IT, Electronic Design, Wireless Networks and Test Automation during 3 years before starting the SpaceMaster Program in 2007. On his second year of SpaceMaster, David went to the Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) where he focused on Robotics. In his master’s thesis "Reconfigurable Multi Robot Society Based on Lego Mindstorms" he created the society from scratch and he presented it in the AAAI Robot Workshop, part of the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) 2009.
In the summer of 2009, after graduating from SpaceMaster he started working as a Researcher in Aalto University (Formerly known as TKK) in Helsinki, Finland. There he is leading a group of students researching the use of robots in ceilings for multiple applications including space, and is also working in Aalto University’s Design Factory, a new project in Aalto University where students from business, design and technological backgrounds come together to turn their ideas into reality. Here David works in the Electronics Prototyping laboratory helping guide new businesses in bringing their ideas to life with embedded systems and electronics.
“SpaceMaster has not only given me knowledge in space science and technology, but also a new way of thinking and looking at the world, now I feel ready for anything”, David Leal
Johan Blomqvist (Round 3)
After SpaceMaster: Columbus Flight Controller at CAM-Systems
I joined one of LTU’s 4½ year engineering program in 2004. Since I was a student at the coordinating university of SpaceMaster, it made me hear a lot about what that program could offer. Therefore, I decided to join the third round in 2007. It turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.
Through SpaceMaster I’ve gone to Germany, UK (second year), and USA (thesis) for space related studies. I have gotten to know students from all over the world (the master class contained more than 20 nationalities) and I’ve increased my professional and personal network orders of magnitude more than I would have, if staying at one university throughout my studies. I am positive this experience helped me to land my current job at the Columbus Control Centre (COL-CC) in Germany; a truly international environment. In the control room there are rarely two people of the same nationality and on “the loop” (the radio communication medium used in the ISS program) you find even more nationals.
I’m the Data Management Engineer & Communication Officer. The job offers extensive training in various locations such as the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne and NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. On average, completing the entire certification takes 9-12 months; where some of the payload training provided to the flight controllers is the same as the astronauts’. Even when certified, the training doesn’t stop. Learning about more systems and taking on more responsibility is always on the agenda.
Through SpaceMaster, I gained the knowledge of space technology and the international experience, which without question opened up the door to be a part of Human Space Flight. The past two years has been challenging, with late evenings buried in books and assignments. However, looking back, it was a joy and I would do it all again. Because of this, I have one piece of advice if you are considering joining SpaceMaster; as we say on the loop: “Go ahead!”
Maria del Carmen, Islas (Round 1)
After SpaceMaster: Young Development Engineer at EADS Space Transportation (Friedrichshafen, Germany)
Background: Mechatronic Engineer
I joined the SpaceMaster course right after finishing my studies in Mexico. It was a dream that became true, the opportunity to study engineering related to space. In a few words: I learnt how to apply my previous studies into the many different areas of the space industry. It was truly interesting. I started my second year in Toulouse, and did my thesis at CESR (Centre d'Etude Spatiale de Rayonnements), the institute from Paul Sabatier University, where I developed a user interface for a system which is used to calibrate space instruments.
I did not only successfully complete my professional career but also I learnt valuable lessons for my life: living in different countries, learning from different cultures, improving my languages skills, team work, getting to know interesting people, etc.
After the thesis, I joined EADS Space Transportation as an intern, then as a trainee, and finally as a "young" engineer. I am working in tests campaigns for the experiments of the Materials Science Laboratory, a payload on board the International Space Station. It was launched last year in Shuttle Mission STS-128.
Gerrit Holl (Round 3)
SpaceMaster was my ticket to my PhD with Stefan Buehler at the Department of Space Science, Luleå University of Technology, Kiruna Space Campus, Kiruna, Sweden. I obtained experience working with level-1 satellite data, researching methods to retrieve information about clouds from satellite measurements, by combining measurements from different satellites in so-called "collocations". I enjoyed this position, and it gave me experience for my second postdoc, where I developed a Fundamental Climate Data Record (FCDR) to apply metrology to meteorological satellite measurements (FIDUCEO EU Project).
Now in 2019 I'm about to start at the Deutscher Wetterdienst (German Weather Service) in Offenbach, Germany. I will join a team to prepare for the utilisation of Meteosat Third Generation (MTG), the next generation European weather satellites that will operate 2021–2040.
How did I get here?
My personal SpaceMaster-history starts in the autumn of 2005. In the 3rd year of my Bachelor in Applied Physics, I was an Erasmus exchange student. From my home university (University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands) I went on an exchange to Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden. From my major in Applied Physics, I decided to spend one semester abroad. During this semester, I felt how great it is to study in a highly international environment. As it was the 3rd year of my Bachelor, I was starting to think about what I wanted to do next. I like physics, but the masters offered by my home university did not look particularly exciting for me. And I actually enjoyed studying abroad a lot more than studying at home. One chilly morning, it was probably around -10 degrees, I saw the advertisement for SpaceMaster partly in a town even further north, and from that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do.
I applied to start in the year 2007/2008, and I was admitted. Two years of studies in a multi-disciplinary field in a highly international environment were starting. The time in Würzburg was great, but for me, a scientist, the best part started when we moved to Kiruna. I arrived on a mild and sunny day in winter, just -8 degrees, I was picked up from the railway station by a staff member and driven to my dorm. An excellent service starting an excellent new phase in my studies.
The academic environment in Kiruna was (and is) perfect for me. Engineers and scientists profit from the proximity to this corner of European space science and industry: the Institute of Space Physics, Esrange, Eiscat and others guarantee nearby expertise in space science, atmospheric science and balloon and rocket projects. The latter was of great help for the BEXUS project in which I took part: Stratospheric Census. And the science going on in Kiruna turned out to match exactly what I wanted to do: working with Earth observation from space, thus applying my physics background, my Spacemaster knowledge and skills, and my strong interest for the tiny part of Space that we as humans inhabit. And all of this in a small-scale environment, at an institute small enough to know everyone by name, with staff who are easy to reach and helpful. This was my place.
Despite the hard work in all the courses, there was time to have fun. Fun in Kiruna, but particularly outside Kiruna. Travel! Road trips! Many times I went to Lofoten, in winter, spring and summer, to enjoy the magnificent nature. And thus recharge for the next exam in the courses that might fit less to my personal preferences and skills - of course, those exist.
Spacemaster has given me the opportunity to spend two years in a highly inspirational environment among friendly, interesting and talented students from all over the world. I would not have had this opportunity in a "simple" master course, and I would not have discovered the specific field that I work in now. And so I return to where I started: as a PhD student at the department where I spent three out of four semesters of my Spacemaster studies. To learn further for what I really want to do with my life: science.