Career Profiles: Fátima Pinto

What is your name?

Fátima Pinto

Where do you work and what is your role/job title?

I work for the Education Office of the European Space Agency (ESA) as a Science Didactics Expert.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

Yes. I am based at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) of ESA, in the Netherlands. At ESTEC we can join one of the many different clubs (sports, astronomy, pottery, photography; etc.) and take part in a borrel after work. And if you are brave enough you can still go swim in the North Sea at the end of your working day.


Questions about your current Job

How did you go about getting your current job?

I was working in the promotion of scientific education in schools in Portugal at Ciência Viva – the National Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture.  Education is my passion and working for the ESA Education Office was an amazing opportunity to continue my work at an international level and with such an amazing and inspiring context: Space!

Describe a typical day.

There is no typical day! I coordinate the development of Earth Observation-related classroom activities that focus on the use of satellite data from different ESA Earth Observation missions. I also coordinate the Climate Detectives school project, in which teams of school students are challenged to investigate a local climate problem make using real data. We also organize teacher training for educators from all over Europe. Many of these activities are done in collaboration with the national ESERO offices (ESA’s ESERO project). In order to do this work of coordination and to develop new activities, I have many meetings with the team, with ESERO national collaborators, and also with ESA experts on different topics. We also test hands-on activities and technologies that teachers can use with their students.

What’s the coolest part of your job?

To work with people from so many different nationalities and with so many different backgrounds. To be able to get to know and learn about so many fascinating topics from Moon and Space exploration, to new technologies to clean space and the development of new missions to monitor and study our planet.

Are there any elements of your job that you dislike?

The weather! In the Netherlands, the sky is easily covered by thick clouds and you can spend days without seeing the blue sky.


Questions about education and training

What subjects did you take in school/college and how have these influenced your career path?

In secondary school, I had an amazing chemistry teacher. Her lessons were really inspiring. I decided to study chemistry and I graduated as a chemistry and physics teacher. Later I decided to do research in my area and I completed a Master’s Degree in analytical chemistry. That helped me understand that Education is really my passion. I also like very much to learn and that has always been very important in my career path. I am now doing a Master in Education and Digital Technologies.

Did you participate in any extra-curricular projects and if yes, did this affect your career choice?

I think it is very important to participate in extra-curricular projects. Even if they don’t affect your career choice for sure they have an impact on our life and you develop different skills not only career-oriented. At the University I was doing radio as an extra activity. Besides having made friends for life and broadened my field of view, it was the beginning of my interest in communication with the public.


Questions about yourself

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

The opportunity to teach and learn from students and other teachers. It is amazing to feel that what you do can be inspiring and helpful for others. Joining the ESA Education Team was for sure one of the most rewarding events in my career so far.

What is your dream job?

My dream job is for sure related to Education; to empower children with the skills needed to face the challenges of this century.


Advice for people thinking of this job as a career choice

What advice would you give to someone considering this job? Are there important personal characteristics, or good work experience they can undertake for example.

It is very important to know how to work as a team and how to collaborate and communicate with people from different countries. It is also very important to be eager to study and learn more. And as for any job, I think it’s important to like what you are doing.