Satellite Service Engineer at SSTL

If you are interested in maths and physics, and like understanding why things work and solving problems, then engineering is definitely a great career option for you. It is a discipline that will always be in demand and will give you skills and experience which can be transferrable across many sectors within engineering.

Head and shoulders portrait of Hannah Rosenbaum smiling

What attracted you to study engineering?

Throughout my school education, my best and favourite subjects had always been maths, physics and art. I always had a natural curiosity for how things work, understanding the mechanisms behind something and using that to solve problems. I didn’t realise I wanted to do engineering for a long time, I had previously wanted to study architecture or genetics at university. It was at university open days that I was drawn to the subject, the engineering careers fairs were exciting and involved problem solving tasks and activities. After attending many more open days and looking into the different types of engineering, I discovered the aerospace sector and knew instantly that this was where I wanted to work. 

What attracted you to study at the University of Nottingham?

Not that many universities offered Aerospace Engineering on their curriculum at the time I was applying to university (2016) so my choices were already limited, but I knew Nottingham’s Engineering Department had a good reputation. After attending an offer holder day at Nottingham, I was won over by the enthusiasm shown by the aerospace students and staff. The engineering facilities and the university campus were also very impressive.

Is there anything that you would change about your time studying?

It took me a while to figure out what learning approach worked best for me. If I could go back, I would maybe try and figure that out sooner so that I could apply it to my first and second year at university. I got quite involved with societies and socials outside of academia, and I wouldn’t change that at all because I ended up with opportunities I never would have expected and made some really good friends.

Is there any extra curricula activity that you are proud of during your time studying?

I am currently the Secretary of UKSEDS, the UK’s National Student Space Society. Being a member of the executive committee gives me valuable experience leading the 120 student volunteer committee to run the society for over 1000 members across the UK, as well as the role of Trustee for a national charity. Only around 3% of charity trustees are under 30 so this is definitely an achievement I am proud of. 

I was also selected to take part in ESA Academy’s Earth Observation Satellite System Design Training Course this year. This was a fantastic opportunity to work with 30 other Masters’ and PhD level students from across Europe to design the ‘Next Generation Sentinel-3’ satellite systems.

My year in industry

I am currently on my year in industry. I have spent the last ten months working at Caterpillar as a Design and Development Engineer. Within this role, I am the subject matter expert for Compact Wheel Loader Visibility Analysis, running simulations on Caterpillar software to ensure that all machine configurations meet global visibility requirements. This also involves working directly with teams in India and the USA to convert the simulations into an autonomous process using Python. I have also worked on various design tasks and producing industry standard technical drawings. As well as gaining experience with product lifecycle management software and standard design procedures.

Hannah Rosenbaum stood next to a digger in a high visibility jacket.
Getting to drive the diggers was pretty cool - there is a big test yard on site with different terrains that you can drive the machines over.

For the final 3 months of my placement year, I will be working as an intern in the European Space Agency’s Mission Operations Department at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the internship is likely to be almost entirely remote - I am hoping I will get the opportunity to visit the site at some point during the placement. Within this role, I will be analysing and modelling data from the Cluster Orbiter Mission.

How did you find your year in industry? 

Completing a year in industry has been hard work, especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Going from being a student to working full time was quite a shock to the system. It was also challenging to manage my work having started a new job and working mostly from home. I adapted to this as well as I could, and my self-management and organisational skills have improved massively. 

Despite working from home for most of the year, I still feel like I have still learned a lot on my placement year at CAT and am very thankful to have had the opportunity to work there and gain the experience. I have learned a lot about CAD design and structure techniques and gained a real understanding of design for manufacture. It was really satisfying to see some of the components I designed up on the machines. I also got the opportunity to learn a bit of Python programming and got very involved with running virtual analysis on the machines.

What did a typical working day look like for you?

I was mostly involved with running visibility analysis on the machines, ensuring that the machines meet global visibility requirements when roading with a worktool. This analysis involved assembling the machine and worktool in a digital visualisation software, and then running the model through a virtual visibility test using Caterpillar’s simulation software and documenting the results. If I wasn’t working on the visibility studies, I was normally using Creo to model my component designs or updating other technical drawings and writing up the documentation that goes with that. I learnt a lot about standard engineering practices in large organisations, and gained experience using product lifecycle management software. My working day was from 8am-4pm, and usually started with a team meeting at 8:15, followed by carrying out my various tasks for the day. On some days I would have meetings with my supervisor to track my progress with my work.

My inspiration

I met Sophie Harker at a women in engineering event at the IET in 2019. She graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2014, and just 5 years later won The IET’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award. She gave a talk about her journey and explained how she is determined to become an astronaut. I don’t want to become an astronaut, but her journey still inspired me a lot, and I felt that I could relate closely to her time as an undergrad/ early graduate, and hope to one day find myself working in the space sector too.




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