Going to troupe
University of Surrey (2002-2007); Brooklands College (2000-2002), Thamesmead School (1995-2000)
MEng in Electronics and Satellite Engineering; A-Levels in Pure and Further Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics & Electronics; GCSE's
Police/Home Office Scientific Development Branch, CP Electronics, SSTL. (When I was at college and uni... lot's of places)
Electronics Hardware Engineer
Surrey Satellite Technology Limited are pioneers in the use of new technologies on spacecraft with a vision to “change the economics of space” (we’re always figuring out how to make satellites cheaper, lighter, better…)
Electronics engineer who designs equipment for spacecraft,... and also rockets too
I’m always on the go and always busy having fun.
I live in Norwich with my partner and two boys. But I stay near London during the week because I work in Guildford. I get to work from home a lot though so I get to spend a lot of time with my boys in Norwich.
As well as enjoying what I do for work (it’s great being paid to do your hobby), I enjoy doing outreach work; which is where we go and teach or give talks and lectures or tours around our facilities to show people our spacecraft being built.
I enjoy spending time with good company, travelling to see friends all over the world, trying new food and having good natter. I spend my evenings swing dancing or playing computer games. I dance in a troupe called Brat Pack; we compete and perform both at home and abroad. We rehearse every week which always ends up with pub time afterwards.
I love being outside, climbing and hiking in the Mountains. I love being out in the rain too. I’m very inquisitive so love exploring and learning about the would around me; from exploring the universe to learning about subatomic particles.
My other hobbies include canoeing, playing the piano and making fireworks. I also occasionally teach canoeing or dancing which is a lot of fun.
My work is very varied, I design electronics but also work on cameras, systems (a fancy word basically meaning playing with lego) and also on propulsion systems (the rockets).
Like a said, my work is very varied. Which is really good; I never get bored at work. It is really nice to be given lots of different challenges to solve. Ultimately though, everything I do is working towards putting things into space and making sure it works.
I work in the AOCS Equipment team. We are responsible for all the sensors that we use for measuring things on the spacecraft. We design the Sun Sensors for measuring where the sun is (this tells us where to point out solar panels), Star Cameras for measuring the position of the stars (so can work out where our telescope is pointing), the Gyroscopes for measuring how fast the spacecraft is spinning, the Radiation Monitors measure how much particle and electromagnetic radiation there is and how much energy the individual particles have (so we can monitor the space weather and calculate how much damage has been done to the electronics on the spacecraft)…. and the list goes on; if there is something to measure, we are responsible for measuring it.
Right now I’m designing the equipment we’ll use to measure the performance of our new gyroscope design. That involves thinking about how to measure things really really accurately (the gyroscope itself is that accurate it can tell you your latitude on the surface of the Earth because it is sensitive enough to measure the Earth’s rotational rate, which is only about 0.004 °/second). This sounds easy but uncertainty is always present when measuring anything, there is no such thing as 100% certain and there is no such thing as 100% accurate, ever!. My job right now is is understand all of the uncertainties and design a way to minimise them.
My other jobs at the moment include reviewing other peoples work. In science and engineering we value something called “Peer Review”; this is a bit like checking each other’s homework to make sure there are no mistakes. In the space industry peer review is king; once our spacecraft is in orbit… it’s not as if we can go and fix it!!!
In my time at SSTL I’ve designed star cameras, radiation monitors, rocket motor control electronics and lots and lots of other really cool stuff.
My Typical Day: Thinking, Designing, Documents, Meetings
What I'd do with the money
Playing (and learning) with Rockets
I run a rocket science workshop in schools where pupils get to learn and experiment with the principles behind rocket science… to show that it’s fun and not as complicated as you might think, well it’s not rocket science after all 😀
The culmination of the workshop is the pupils building and launching their own model rockets.
The money will be put towards better equipment for demonstrations and perhaps a small camera for mounting to to top of the pupil’s rockets to record their flights.
Rockets like this one for example:
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Inquisitive, Fun, Daydreamer
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
That's a really tough question; it's a tie I think between developing an extremely light weight Hydrogen Peroxide rocket motor and spending two months at an observatory on top of a volcano in the Canary Islands testing the Star Tracker (a very accurate sort of telescope) which I helped design.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
My physics teacher at school, Mr Roberts; he taught me how to learn, to enquire, to question, to think. I wasn't taught answers, I was shown how to find them.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Chemistry (it was really interesting and what got me into making my own fireworks and rockets)
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
All... the... time! :o
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
A pâtissière (I absolutely love baking)
Who is your favourite singer or band?
This week it's Etta James
What's your favourite food?
Anything with Halloumi cheese in
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Probably becoming the junior world champion in marathon canoeing. I loved the training with friends and the competing in the sport; then when my K2 partner and I actually won the world championships it was a hugely proud moment (that and we really enjoyed that particular race).
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
The first one is a secret, the second one would be to have a sprung floor in my dance studio at home, aaaaand... 3 more wishes.
Tell us a joke.
I was going to tell you a joke about time travel... but you didn't like it!