How to launch into a career in space quantum engineering

space quantum engineering

Diviya Devani,Space Systems Engineer in Quantum Technology at Teledyne e2v discusses how to get into a career in Space systems engineering and how to progress in this role.

I’ve been fascinated by Space from a young age, I’ve always dreamt of working in the Space industry and I’m now living my dream working at Teledyne e2v.

I’m a Systems Engineer developing quantum technology for Space and worked my way up from joining Teledyne e2v’s Space imaging graduate scheme three years ago.

My current role is developing a nanosatellite with a quantum technology experiment on-board. This is the precursor to an instrument that will help to predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as well as monitoring polar ice mass, ocean currents and seas level. The project is known as the Cold Atom Space Payload (CASPA) project and includes new quantum technology developments that allow atoms to be cooled close to absolute zero by using lasers. These cold atoms can then be used as ultra-sensitive sensors for measuring gravity.  I am responsible for the overall system, including its design and delivery and have just presented this project in front of around 300 people at the European space Agency’s 4S Symposium in Sorrento, Italy.

What does it take to be a systems engineer in the Space industry?

Working as a systems engineer in the Space industry requires a number of skills. And it can be competitive to get into. You need to have great interpersonal skills as you deal with a wide range of people daily – from scientists to customers to senior management – you need to be able to communicate effectively with everyone.

Confidence is also key. It’s important to believe in yourself – engineering requires a lot of problem solving so be confident in your decisions and solutions. If you don’t believe in yourself and the design decisions you make, no one else will.

This job is ideal for those who are technically minded and can pick up complex information quickly. A background in physics has really helped me in this role, as understanding complex information was an everyday part of my degree.

Being able to see the bigger picture and identifying how changes to the susbsytem level will affect the overall system is really key. You are working with a team who are experts in their respective fields and being able to understand the technical details enough to make decisions for the overall system is important.

However, the most important thing in a career like this is to be resilient. There will always be challenges that you have to overcome and problems that need solving. Although the answers may not always be obvious and can be difficult to discover, it’s important not to get disheartened.

How to stand out from the crowd when applying for a role like this

For every job that you apply for, you’ll be up against people with similar qualifications and experience so it’s important to make yourself stand out. One way to do this is to keep your CV easy to read – the people hiring will most likely be sifting through loads of CVs and lengthy texts are likely to put them off. Make sure that it is easy to see your skills and how they link to the job role to emphasise how suitable you are for the role.

When applying don’t obsess too much on the job requirements that are stated – of course you need to make sure that you would be suited to the role. However, if you only meet 70 percent of the requirements it doesn’t mean that you still shouldn’t apply. Do your research on the job you’re applying for and show how the experience that you do have could help you excel in the role. For example, you may not have specific experience in designing satellites, but you do have experience in leading a team. You could link this to how comfortable you are in delegating responsibilities and how you can motivate people to get the best results. Both of which are important factors in satellite design.

It’s also a good idea to get involved in things outside of work where your interests can develop even further. For example, I’m the treasurer of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (Essex network) and one of my key objectives is to increase engagement with young professionals, inparticular females within the engineering field. I love doing this as it’s an opportunity to apply my engineering thinking in a different way and learn more about the financial side of projects. I’m responsible for coming up with budgets for organising events and get the opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals.

How to progress in a role like this 

Once you succeed in getting a role in Space technology don’t just immerse yourself in the job, but into the business as a whole. Grab every opportunity you can and take on responsibilities outside your role, for example by getting involved in the marketing of the business I’ve been able to develop a more commercial and business mindset. This is only going to help career progression and you may find something that you love and never knew about.

Surround yourself with people who inspire you and perhaps ask them to spend some time mentoring you. Having a senior mentor or role model can even open doors for you, as they may be able to provide you with links to their network.

Most importantly, whether it’s applying for the job or progressing after – don’t be afraid to just go for it! You can do anything that you put your mind to, a philosophy I live by.

Diviya DevaniAbout the author

Diviya Devani is a systems engineer who works in the Quantum Technology department at Teledyne e2v.

She has previous experience as a Product Engineer on European Space Agency projects including the ESA Sentinel 5 project which monitors air quality, climate and solar radiation.

Diviya is currently overseeing a two year, world-first project, managing a six strong consortium from both industry and academia to deliver a small satellite system that will demonstrate a Quantum experiment in space.

She has been eager to work in the space sector from a young age and is passionate about encouraging more women to pursue careers in STEM industries. She feels that our education does not detail the wide range of careers STEM offers and would like to help raise awareness of the opportunities that there are out there for women.

Her role model is Sunita Williams the first person to complete a marathon in Space and she is currently the treasurer of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Essex network and one of her key objectives is to increase engagement with young professionals and female engineers within the engineering field.

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