Systems Engineer
EADS Astrium

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Jessica H

0.00.00 So I’m Jessica H. I’m a Systems Engineer on an earth observation mission and I work at EADS Astrium in Stevenage. The mission I’m working on is called Earthcare. It’s a European space agency mission, so we’re building and designing it for them. And my job is to make sure that the final design and then the final satellite when it’s built will work together.

0.00.30 So I need to understand every part that goes into it. And as the design changes, which it’s changing very rapidly at this point, able to pick up on the things that are going to have an effect elsewhere in the spacecraft. When I was about ten I guess I was on holiday with my parents in France and we were camping and it was a perfectly clear night

0.01.00 and you could see all these stars and my dad showed me the Milky Way, so across the sky all the stars coming across and down the middle and I can remember that quite vividly as probably being the point at which I became very interested in it. And from then on I was very lucky that my parents helped me become interested in it, so bought me books and whenever there was anything on television then it would be oh we’ll watch this because I was interested in it.

0.01.30 So doing a degree that was related to space seemed quite a natural choice but then there were other things that I really enjoyed doing, so I did consider engineering, aerospace engineering. When I went to university it was the first time I’d lived away from home. But I really enjoyed it. Made lots of friends, lived with some really nice people who I’m still in contact with now

0.02.00 and some of them are beginning to get married so got weddings planned in the future to go to. I enjoy learning about different areas of physics and it really helped me understand where I would want to go with it, because there are some bits that I found very, very difficult and that perhaps more the engineering parts were the parts that I was particularly good, but I loved learning about space things at the same time so the two merged quite well I think.

0.02.30 My Masters degree was in spacecraft technology and satellite communications. To work at Astrium actually they need people with a real range of skills, so people with mechanical backgrounds, electrical engineering, systems, software, physics, maths. So the Masters degree I chose encompassed a lot of those areas.

0.03.00 In my spare time one big hobby for me at the moment is kite surfing. I’ve been doing that for a number of years now and have travelled across the world, which is nice because you get to go to nice warm beaches and the warm sea and the warm wind. And I think travel now that I’m working, I can actually afford to go and see lots of parts of the world that I hadn’t seen up to now and I enjoy that. So I enjoy seeing the way people live in different areas of the world.

0.03.30 I’m really looking forward to the day that the satellite I’m working on now is launched. It’s the first satellite that I’ve had significant input to. It won’t be launched till at least 2013 but I’d love to see that launched, to know that that’s, you’ve designed things that are inside that rocket. So that’s a fairly short term goal I guess, but I’m really looking forward to that.


Jessica H is a Systems Engineer at EADS Astrium in Stevenage – “The mission I’m working on is called Earthcare. It’s a European space agency mission, so we’re building and designing it for them”. She had a fasination for outer space since a young age, and with the encouragement of her family followed her passion through university to her dream job.

More information about Engineering technicians

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

87%  male 
13%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

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? Engineering technicians perform a variety of technical support functions to assist engineers with the design, development, operation, installation and maintenance of engineering systems and constructions.
Entrants to training usually posses GCSEs/S grades. Vocational training consists either of full-time study for a BTEC/SQA award followed by two years on-the-job training, or an apprenticeship leading to an NVQ/SVQ at Level 3 or 4. An NVQ/SVQ in Aircraft Engineering Maintenance at Level 3 plus further professional qualifications are required to become a licensed aircraft engineer.
  • Plans and prepares work and test schedules based on specifications and drawings;
  • Sets up equipment, undertakes tests, takes readings, performs calculations and records and interprets data;
  • Prepares estimates of materials, equipment and labour required for engineering projects;
  • Diagnoses and detects faults and implements procedures to maintain efficient operation of systems and equipment;
  • Inspects completed aircraft maintenance work to certify that it meets standards and the aircraft is ready for operation;
  • Visits and advises clients on the use and servicing of mechanical and chemical engineering products and services.
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