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Kelly - Space Systems Engineer

  Kelly standing next to a Mars rover prototype at ESTEC in Amsterdam  Kelly works at the European Space Agency (ESA) in the Netherlands where she is a Space Systems Engineer. Kelly works as part of a team developing different technologies that will be required in the not too distant future as we strive to send humans to the planet Mars.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An astronaut.

Who or what inspired you to become a space systems engineer?

I was watching the news on TV when the Mars Pathfinder landed a base station with a roving probe on Mars when I was younger, and from that moment on I knew that was what I wanted to do.

Tell us a little bit about your role. What does your typical day involve?

I talk to a lot of different companies about the diverse technologies needed to allow us to go to Mars in order to progress the research into this area and hopefully get us nearer to sending humans to Mars.

What do you love about your job and what would you change?

There are 3 main reasons why I love my job:

  1. The work that we do is very international so we do get to do a lot of travel and visit different parts of the world.
  2. I think it is so inspiring to explore the universe.
  3. Every day when I come into work there is a new and interesting problem to solve.

The only thing that I would change about my job would be if there could be less paperwork to complete!

Did you go to university? Was a degree required for your role?

I went to Delft University in the Netherlands where I completed a Masters in Space Engineering.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

When you get to build something from scratch and test it and it works!

What’s the most unexpected thing about your job?

Having to overcome the political issues that come about when working with different countries in Europe. It is sometimes difficult to get everyone to agree on a problem when working together.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young person who is considering becoming an engineer, what would it be?

Follow your dreams. The sky is not the limit.

What do your friends/family think about your job?

They think it is very cool!

Do you have any hobbies that you like to do to relax?

I like to go to the cinema and play squash.

Would you say that you had a good work/life balance?

Yes I think so. My normal working hours are 9am-5pm during weekdays so I often have my evenings and weekends free to spend time with my friends and family.

What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future?

We are preparing Europe to be capable of going to Mars enabling humans to explore further into space than ever before.

What excites you most about engineering?

I really enjoy solving the complex problems. It is very rewarding being able to consider lots of different aspects of a problem and fit all of these parts together in order to look at the bigger picture and move forward as whole.

What should no engineer leave home without?

Duct tape!