1.What is your name?
2.Where do you work and what is your role/job title?
DAMEC Research, Copenhagen – Design Engineer (1994 – 1997)
Pedersen Focus Ltd, Cork – Managing Director (2000 – to date)
3.What were the main ‘career decision’ milestones in your life so far?
1984 – Started a hobby in photography
1993 – Mechanical Engineering Degree
1997 – Completed design if the MELFI Internal Outfitting
1997 – Got first job in 3d Architectural Visualisation
2000 – Started own company (Pedersen Focus)
4.Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Freddie Pedersen (My dad),
Prof. Liam McDonnell (CIT).
5.Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Yes, very much!
6.How did you go about getting your current job?
I moved to Denmark following college and saw an advert for “Space Engineer” and thought that sounds interesting. I applied, and found I was very well suited (design/R&D experience and fluent technical English was a huge advantage).
DAMEC Research A/S was set up as a private company by the Centre for Aeronautical Medicine at Rigshospitalet (Copenhagen’s main hospital). They had won an ESA contract to design and deliver the Internal Outfitting of a Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for the ISS (International Space Station), aka MELFI.
The MELFI project was an R&D project involving concept designs, manufacturing of initial mock-up prototypes, sourcing of materials & suppliers. Manufacture of test models (partly done in-house, as our work-shop had basic facilities incl. milling machine and lathe). Throughout the project, progress review meetings were held at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Matra Marconi Space in Toulouse, and at Linde in Munich, Germany. Due to the stringent safety requirements, the design and function of all components was constantly tested and documented. The first flight model was manufactured on time and 8% under budget in Copenhagen in June 1997 and integrated at Linde AG in Munich in August 1997. I completed the final 10 months (May ’96 to Aug. ’97) while teleworking from Cork.
3 freezers are currently in use on the International Space Station.
DAMEC Research’s main activity was designing and carrying out medical experiments (on-ground and in space) on patients and astronauts, mainly on the effects of weightlessness.
7. Describe a typical day.
There were no typical days. It was R & D. We worked through all stages: Concept design, evaluation, testing, prototype manufacturing, testing, more testing, design tweaking / redesign, more prototypes, more testing,
8.What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Design development, prototype manufacturing, testing and evaluation, preparation of a lot of documentation / drawings, attending design reviews, safety reviews.
9.What are the main challenges?
Everything developed for use on ISS must be thoroughly tested as it needs 100% “up-time” and potential flaws need to be foreseen and “designed out”.
Years later, my 5-year-old and I were watching a BBC program about British Astronaut, Tim Peak on ISS and shouting “that’s Daddy’s freezer!”
11.What’s not so cool?
Documentation!! Lots & lots of documentation.
12.What skills do you bring to your workplace?
Project management, design skills, imagination
13.What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Higher maths, Physics, Applied Maths, Chemistry, French, Commerce (just Inter Cert but still handy to have the basics):
All are useful.
14.What is your education to date?
B. Eng in Mechanical Engineering from CIT (graduated 1993)
15.What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
Mechanical engineering has given me an extremely broad skill set.
Perhaps more important though is to want to see the project completed well.
16.Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
I have been lucky enough since the ESA R&D project to start my own business which combined 3d modelling & my hobby (photography). Training is on-going: We need to constantly be improving our work standard and learning new techniques. The web is a huge source of tutorials & web based training material.
17.What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Hearing the freezers were actually in Space and working!
18.What personal qualities do you have that help you in your career?
“Yes, we can!” approach
Problem solving – essential to get to the next stage of any project
19.What is your dream job?
3D Architectural visualisation (my current job) – at least when the deadlines are not on top of us.
20.What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Go for it! Start doing lots of things now. Every hobby & interest will be an extra skill. So, whatever you are into … get involved!
21.What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Being able to “imagine” the result
Project management skills (understanding the stages / project flow)
22.What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Make ‘n do
Mechanical Engineering degree