CubeSat’s project leader, Giannis Kotsakiachidis, participated in ESA Academy’s Space Systems Engineering Training Course 2018 that was held from 6 – 9 November 2018 in ESA Academy’s new Training and Learning Facility (TLF) at ESA’s ESEC-Galaxia, Belgium. This is his personal experience:
“The trip from Thessaloniki to Brussels started at 5th of November few minutes after midnight. It was a long road to Belgium since my flight was from Sofia Airport and the anticipation was gleeful. Upon my arrival at Libramont station, outside the van waited to take the firsts to arrive there, to the hotel, La Barrière de Transinne. We left our luggage in our room and immediately headed to the living room to get to know each other. Meeting 29 people that share the same interests with you and they are as thrilled as you are for space is astonishing.
The first day we met almost all the trainers and the ESA Education organisers of the training course. They were rather welcoming I may say. The working environment was a huge room filled with monitors. Each participant had his own monitor and there were two huge touch screens to help with the presentations. The lectures started describing the Scope and Context of Space Systems Engineering. The enthusiasm and desire the trainer had to teach us as many things as he could was easily noticeable. He also told us that for him science is considered art, showing how much he loved what he was doing (because he is now retired) and that, is something that I found impressing.
Systems Engineers are architects of technology
The next day, we continued with Mr. Joachim’s lectures and he also described to us his own view about Systems Engineering. I must say that at many points there were different opinions between the trainers and this is something that proves that there is not only one way to approach a problem. Mr. Joachim told us something that I will never forget. Even in worst cases, do not be afraid to make a few trade-offs! Do not be afraid to take some risks for the good of your project!
Reaching at the last lectures, the third trainer talked about project management and Systems Engineering. Speaking from his own experiences as the Copernicus Space Segment Programme Manager, we, the students, realized how much work does the project manager position has and how many responsibilities there are in the job description.
Do not be afraid to look for options and make a few trade-offs.
Exercises. The exercises were one of the best things about this training course. There were three exercises, to be performed in teams. The first one did not go as good as I would expect it, because in the team we did not know each other yet and we had to cooperate to perform a certain task at a given time. On the other hand, the second exercise went surprisingly well. We had the same time to perform a bigger task than the previous one, however immediately all the tasks were delegated quickly and we split in smaller teams. Few minutes before the deadline, we gathered up, discussed our tasks and our assumptions and combined the data we found.
Before I conclude, I would like to say that for me the best thing about this week was the time we had in coffee breaks, lunches and dinners to discuss with the trainers in a personal level, share with them our ideas, our ambitions and consult them for our personal projects. You don’t know how much knowledge we gained just from 10 minutes of talking with them at a coffee break.
I must say that this training course was a tremendous opportunity. Seriously, if you are a University student, you have a love about space and want to enrich your knowledge about it, then I strongly recommend you to apply to any training course organized by ESA Education Office. This is the end. I hope that I didn’t bore you and that you gained something from my personal experience.”