We are delighted to share this guest blog post from recent University of Edinburgh alumnus, Katie Miller. Katie provides a great insight into how her university experience sparked her interest in the space sector.
Looking back, I never imagined that my Geography degree would lead me to working for Skyrora, a company that launches rockets into space. I definitely never thought that, within a year after graduating, I would have secured a role which allows me to travel across Europe to attend conferences, present in front of hundreds of people, and liaise on a daily basis with large government space agencies throughout Europe.
My interest in the space sector began at university while studying a course titled, ‘Remote Sensing and Global Climate Change’. I gained knowledge about the use and importance of satellites in society and how satellites can help monitor situations such as pollution, deforestation and flooding. I even wrote a space proposal which led me to apply for a position at Skyrora, a Scottish based company on a race to be the first UK commercial launcher of satellites into space.
In March 2018, I started working for Skyrora. The company wants to launch satellites with the least environmental impact. We are currently working on a fuel called ‘Ecosene’, a project whereby unrecyclable plastic waste can be converted into an eco-friendly kerosene that can be used to fuel our launch vehicles. This can also be offered to the wider aviation industry. I work in the Business Development department on various tasks, such as writing business plans, applying for relevant grants and attending conferences to build relationships with partners and future clients. As part of this, I am constantly required to keep up-to-date with the latest industry news, understand our competitors and continually learn about new innovative technologies that can help and grow our business.
I feel privileged to have been trained as one of the company’s three STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) ambassadors, who attend events such as the Scottish International Airshow. We also give talks about our careers and dedicate time every month to finding ways to promote STEM subjects to young students and recent graduates. The fast-growing team and opportunities that are given so early after university highlights how a job in the space industry is an ideal place to grow, gain experience and skills as an individual.
Working at Skyrora has made me realise how much focus the government is putting on the UK space sector. The government’s vision is for the UK to become the world’s most space innovative nation, working in collaboration with industries to capture 10% of the global space market by 2030. The UK Space Agency is part-funding the recently announced Sutherland Spaceport. In addition, the number of government organisations’ committed to funding space projects made me realise how many employment opportunities this would give the local economy, creating a skilled and motivated workforce. Thus, the changing dynamic of the industry will open many career paths and opportunities for graduates.
Whilst a job in the space industry may not seem a likely place for a Geography graduate, the range of skills acquired during university can be applied to almost any industry and the number of opportunities presented in space make it an ideal place for graduates to flourish and grow professionally. Plus, it’s a lot of fun, too!
Skyrora are sponsors of The National Student Space Conference, which is taking place on the 2nd and 3rd of March 2019. This event is organised by the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS) society, and is hosted by the Physics and Astronomy Society at the University of Edinburgh. Find out more about this exciting event.
Has Katie’s insight inspired you to consider a career in the space industry?
Check out our resource, “Your future in… the Space Industry” for advice on gaining work experience and job hunting tips.