My name is Francesca and I have been working in the aerospace sector for more than 6 years and I can tell you the experience is great. The projects are really complex and challenging, but I felt proud to be part of something that in the future will be used by pilots, ESA operators and other people to achieve remarkable objectives.
I came across to this world almost by chance after my Master’s degree in Computer Science. If I think about the university experience, I can say now, it was the best choice of my life; it is a bit sad there are only a few women studying computer science because it is a fantastic and so vast subject. You can learn anything from Artificial Intelligence, data mining, models and statistics, computer vision, information retrieval, internet of things and so on.
After university, I only knew what I did not want to do like working for banks or, in general, in the financial sector, in communications and doing web sites despite some good offers.
After various job interviews, by chance, I came across a consultancy company that mainly worked in the helicopter industry. At the time, I did not even know what a helicopter was, but my gut feeling was telling me to take the opportunity. This was the turning point of my career. After that, I had the opportunity to work directly on the on-board software for civil helicopters and on a Full Flight Simulator model for a military helicopter.
After 4 years, I moved to the Space sector and it was like starting again from scratch. I started working on a very exciting space project- the ESA Mission Control System (MCS). The MCS is used in ground segments to carry out satellite control, mission planning, simulations, training and ground station control and management. It was really challenging, but I like challenges as they make you improve fast.
The Space industry drives scientific progress and boosts growth and employment. It is very dynamic, fast-paced and broader than most can imagine. There are so many different satellites out there with a wide range of purposes like weather forecasting, climate change monitoring, military, security, GPS, scientific studies, imagery and so on.
My contribution to the Space World involves developing, maintaining and supporting the software and environment used for a specific ESA mission or, for example, a protocol that can be used by them all. My team and I are part of every phase of the mission; from the definition and analysis of requirements, implementation, during the test campaign, the pre-launch to the launch phase. My work will help studying the climate change, forecasting weather or researching water in other planets or moons.
The great thing about Space is that it makes us feel like an explorer of the universe, from the Moon landing, black holes discoveries, and new planets to Mars exploration. There are so many opportunities for young talented people; thinking that your contribution, even if little, can make all this happen is fantastic. Sometimes, in life, you just need to follow your instinct to find your way.