Published: 03 May 2024

Space Engineer Moe Ahmed to boost regional space skills

Moe Ahmed has joined the SpaceCraft team at Surrey Space Centre as Space Skills Specialist.

“I describe myself as a space-enthusiastic problem solver,” says Moe. “I worked for an early-stage tech company, so I’ve got a good understanding of the challenges facing small businesses trying to grow and develop hi-tech products.”

Although he was offered a permanent job at the start-up, he turned it down because they didn’t focus on space.

Instead Moe – soon to become Dr Ahmed – came to Surrey Space Centre. Initially studying for his MSc in Space Engineering, he then worked towards his PhD, which he is about to finish.

“My research looks at a new type of electrostatic thruster which could be used on small satellites, including big constellations like Starlink and OneWeb,” he explains. “Existing designs run into lifetime problems, especially if you try to reduce the size of thrusters. I designed one without a channel – the main component which erodes and fails. Mine is about half the size of thrusters used today.”

An established science communicator and promoter of space, Moe is keen to use SpaceCraft to help people see the opportunities in the sector.

“When people think of careers in space, they think about astronauts,” he says, “but there are so many more opportunities. Space is thriving in Surrey and Hampshire – the Space South Central region. Tim Peake is just the tip of the iceberg. Everyone has the potential to work in the space sector, but it’s hard to see that when you’re navigating careers advice at school.”

He’ll tackle this from the get-go by attending careers fairs and by helping with the new Space Engineering module, which Surrey Space Centre has created for Alton College students.

He’s also a big advocate of the business support side of SpaceCraft.

“The fact that Surrey Space Centre’s facilities and expertise are open to businesses wanting to develop in space is brilliant. It’s a great way to help SMEs grow.” He highlights incubators and accelerators available to companies to help them increase their technology readiness levels. “But a key problem for hardware companies is getting access to the facilities they need to build and test their prototypes. Surrey Space Centre has all they need to validate their technology.”

Moe and Surrey Space Centre will be at the UK Space Agency’s Ignite Space exhibition in Leeds in June and at Farnborough International Airshow in July helping to raise awareness of how companies can benefit from SpaceCraft.

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