Graduate profile

Charlie

"I work in the exploration team and get to work on Europe’s biggest exploration missions. Space exploration has always been what I am passionate about so this is a bit of a dream come true for me!"

What attracted you to choose the University of Surrey and to study your course here?

For me, during my research it came down to two institutions that stood out as the best in the UK for Space Engineering, and ultimately I chose Surrey out of the two for the prestige in the facilities at the Surrey Space Centre (SSC), the structure of the course content delivery, and the ease of access to London. The latter was important to me as I live in London and it didn’t force me to relocate.

What were the best things about your course?

The teaching staff – all so knowledgeable, kind, and generous with their time. They delivered a lot of content in a short year at a good, challenging pace, and offer much of their own time if you seek it out to support if you are struggling. Also the facilities at the SSC which I was fortunate enough to get to use for my project, giving me experience in testing prototype equipment with cryogenic fluids, thermal and vacuum chambers etc.

What do you do now and what do you find most enjoyable about your work?

I’m now a full-time Spacecraft Systems Engineer at Airbus Defence and Space. I work in the exploration team and get to work on Europe’s biggest exploration missions. Space exploration has always been what I am passionate about so this is a bit of a dream come true for me! There have been many highlights already, but getting to work with (and learn from) some of the most experienced space engineers in the industry, as well as getting to see some of the hardware we are sending to other planets up close in the cleanrooms, have been particular standouts.

 

How did your time at Surrey help you choose what career to go into? 

I came to Surrey knowing I wanted to work in the world of Space Engineering, but it is a very broad industry covering many disciplines and subsystems, so can be hard to figure out which direction you want to go in! Surrey helped me in two key ways – the first was the breadth of topics on the course that gave me exposure to lots of different aspects of designing, building and operating spacecraft, and the second was the faculty. The combination of the top-quality teaching of Systems by Professor Craig Underwood, career guidance and recommendations from my tutor Dr Nicola Baresi, and a project that saw me designing and building technology for a Mars surface exploration mission with Professor Keith Ryden using the Surrey Space Centre lab facilities, led me to the exploration systems role I am in now. 

 

What is your advice for students aspiring to work in your profession?

Keep track of the various job closure deadlines throughout the academic year – some (including our graduate roles) close as early as October! Tailor your application to the job you’re applying to, take every chance to expand your network and seek advice, and get involved in as much as possible so you’re always learning and building experience! 

Get involved in Peryton Space – the University of Surrey’s UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS) branch and compete in Rocketry, Rover, and Satellite design competitions! I got to lead the National Rocketry Competition (NRC) team for my year and I learned so much and made great friends, and get to continue supporting them in my professional life!

The university was very supportive when I tried to set up other ventures – helping me organise visits to Airbus’ and SSTL’s facilities, and supporting me in going to the European Space Agency (ESA) Academy for their Clean Space Course.