1. What is your name
2. Where do you work and what is your role/job title?
Ground Segment Engineer – European Astronaut Center
3. What were the main ‘career decision’ milestones in your life so far?
I think choosing to study engineering set me on the right path and once I learned of the involvement of us humble Irish folk in lofty space projects I had to get involved. Starting the Trinity Space Society and pointing my research towards the stars helped finalize my move into Space.
4. Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Simple list: Adam Savage (Mythbusters), Dr. Frank Salzgeber (ESA TTPO) and Batman
5. Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
My job is so good sometimes I feel guilty, so yup, I’m very happy
6. How did you go about getting your current job?
I applied to every ESA centre I could hunting for internship. I got some offers and ended up at the European Astronaut Center. I worked hard and leaned into learning as much as I could and I was exceptionally lucky to end up with a permanent contract.
7. Describe a typical day.
Ha! There are not typical days! Depending on the day I could be working on documentation, robotics, web development, networking engineering, video engineering or … meetings
8. What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Pretty much I’m the backup for EAC’s Lead Ground Controller who is in charge of the health and development of all of EAC’s ground systems International Space Station operations. He is also involved in just about every other IT related system at EAC so I am kept very busy most days.
9. What are the main challenges?
Navigating chaos, high stakes and deadlines that expired yesterday.
10. What’s cool?
Everything! I get to work with astronauts surrounded by space stuff.
11. What’s not so cool?
The coffee machine is terrible.
12. What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
It might sound odd, but I’m good when it comes to communicating the details of technical projects. It has played in my, and my team’s, benefit again and again.
13. What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
If we’re talking secondary; I took History, German, DCG and Physics and the terrible three. German, DCG and Physics are all pretty useful nowadays. To be honest I did all my ‘real’ learning in University though.
14. What is your education to date?
MAI in Computer Engineering and MSc in Technology Commercialization.
15. What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
Hard question, the most valuable skills I picked up relate to understanding how to organize myself to get the most out of my time and studies. Just the practice of study and learning has given me lifelong skills.
16. Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
Oh yeah, I aim to always push myself to learn and advance. – Kaizen
17. What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Seeing the Trinity Space Society become a real thing separate from myself and joining my colleagues to watch Alex Gerst start his epic Horizons mission in the Foyer of the European Astronaut Centre.
18. What personal qualities do you have that help you in your career?
Patience (most of the time) and empathy, neither can be undervalued and I try to actively practice both each day.
19. What is your dream job?
20. What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Grow your network every day and BE PERSISTENT. There are many people hungry for space jobs and there are few jobs. Your time will come, you just need to stay strong.
21. What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
The ability to self-organize, humility, dedication.
22.What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Anything in the domain of IT really especially if there is a connection to technology relevant to space.