In October 2019 Astrosat was invited to a “Space Event” as the pupils of Merchiston High School were going to embark on a visit to NASA’s headquarters later that year. We were kindly requested to judge a panel by the pupils answering the question “Should Space be a public or private endeavour”, along with introducing them to space data and its application to earth solutions.
Several colleagues of Astrosat joined the session:
Head of Sales – Arun Arumugam
Data Scientist – Jean François Exbrayat
Business Analyst – Andrew Fournet
We were also joined by friends and space world colleagues from Skyrora to judge the panel, and for their presentation about space hardware (everyone loves to see a rocket engine!)
I have to say the panels were brilliantly presented and very well-argued. These children did a really good job to try and convince us of the merits of public versus private space investment. After careful consideration, the judges came to the conclusions that the team presenting the case for Space being a private endeavour won on that day (something which we may want to revisit in a subsequent “opinion” blog…)
Our colleagues from Skyrora followed the debate by presenting their Skylark booster, which got a lot of interest from the pupils in the audience. I can see many of them going into mechanical engineering in the future.
However, the best was to come. Obviously, our presentation about space data! We started with an introduction to our company, and the objectives we set ourselves to be a force for good. The floor was then given to Jean François to introduce the pupils to the art of the possible in data science, and explain in a comprehensive way what processing goes into the raw data we are able to get our hands on. It was important to cover the scientific aspects of our work, and its connection to information technology, as some of the students in attendance were very interested in IT, if not already considering a career in that domain. Jean François brilliantly addressed the question of “what good is coding” with a real-life example.
Next to step up was myself. I explained how we use the information our data science team are able to give us, and what great insights this information gives to our customers, and how the data translates into a solution for good. I talked about our work on illegal logging and storm tracking, along with ThermCERT, our fuel poverty prediction application. We fielded a few questions from the students, who were very interested in the data science aspect of our work.
After the presentation we were invited to join the teachers and students for few drinks and snacks to field yet more questions in a more informal way. One question I was asked was which university I had attended, and which speciality I had taken there in order for me to work in the space sector. The answer was quite a shocker for some of the students as I did not go to university! I studied media and communication in France. But I explained to them that it is not essential to go to university to work in the space sector (it helps of course, children, you should go to university and study hard), as long as you have the will, and work hard, then your qualities will shine through regardless of what your curriculum is, especially if you enjoy the work you do. It’s by having a diverse workforce that organisations like Astrosat are so open and reactive to the world’s problems. And by thinking out of the box we can truly apply our motto… “Every Earth problem has a space solution”.