Cowplain Community School, Havant College, University of Bath
GCSEs, A-level in Maths, Further Math, Physics & Electronics, Masters Degree in Aerospace Engineering
Shop Assistant, Machine Operator, University Ambassador
Space Systems Engineer
I have always been really interested in outer space and learning how things work so went to the University of Bath to study Aerospace Engineering and graduated two years ago, I’ve been working at Airbus designing satellites since.
In my spare time I like to be outside as much as possible. Most weekends I go gliding (it’s like a plane without an engine) it is an amazing feeling to soar like a bird through the sky, gliders can travel for hundreds of kilometres so there is always something new to see. I started gliding when I joined university but you can actually fly solo from 14 years old. I also enjoy camping and horse riding or just curling up with a good book.
I design satellites which collect information about the Earth. These satellites range from about the size of a suitcase up to the size of a double decker bus and can tell us all about the environment.
These satellites can help us to understand how the planet is changing; from the shrinking rainforests, to how the polar ice caps are melting and which volcanos might erupt next. All this information is very important and is called Earth Observation, one of the best ways to collect all this data is from way up in space.
To collect data each satellite has a payload; which could be something like a camera or a sensor. I help to design these payloads. As some of these payloads are really big, like huge antennas, I get to design how they can be folded up and packed down smaller so we can fit them on rockets and get them into space. Normally each satellite is a new design, because they can have so many different purposes, so there is always a new design challenge to tackle. This kind of work involves Maths and Science but also needs some creativity and imagination. At Airbus we make satellites for customers all over the world including the European Space Agency (ESA).
A lot of the payloads I work on use Synthetic Aperture Radar technology (SAR). Most observation satellites use a camera to gather data but SAR is where the satellite has a large antenna which sends microwave pulses towards Earth and then receives the reflected signals back to make an image. It might sound strange but it is not really that different to a camera. With a camera the sun sends out light which is reflected off the ground and bounces into the camera lens to create an image. The benefit of SAR is it can take images through clouds and can also work in complete darkness because it doesn’t rely on light from the sun. This means it can be used for lots of special tasks such as providing images during natural disasters where hurricane weather or volcanic dust might block the view. This way governments and aid providers know where to evacuate people from or where to help first. Another key use is for monitoring polar ice caps as SAR provides extra data which can show how thick the ice is or looking at rainforests it helps to work out how dense and healthy forests are.
I am currently working on a project for the European Space Agency (ESA) where we are designing a new satellite to join the Copernicus Program. This is a mission will provide loads of data to help Europe understand climate change, how we are affecting it but also look at things like land use for farming to help work out when it is best to sow seeds, collect crop etc. so we can grow more food and help stop global hunger. You can find out more about the Copernicus Program here: https://www.copernicus.eu/en/about-copernicus/
Here are two of the other projects I have worked on:
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Inventive, Enthusiastic, Adventurous
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Working on a satellite which is now up in space
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My Dad, who is also an engineer
What was your favourite subject at school?
Design & Technology
What did you want to be after you left school?
An Astronaut (I'd still love to do this!)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Only for daydreaming
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Flying a glider solo for the first time and skydiving