Marek Szumlas

Marek Szumlas

Dutch, Applications Programmer and Software Developer based at ESTEC

Although I was born in Poznan in Poland I spent most of my childhood in Ghana where I lived and went to school. Then in 1970 my family moved to Holland and in 1974 I applied for and obtained Dutch nationality.

Through living in the Netherlands I was familiar with ESTEC and while studying at the British School in the Hague I was lucky enough to obtain summer jobs at ESTEC. Then in 1972 I went to London to study computer science at the London Polytechnic although at that time I failed to complete my studies.

On my return to Holland I saw an advert for a job in applied mathematics at ESTEC; I was asked for an interview and was given the job. I started work in what at that time was the applied mathematics unit at ESTEC. Much has changed since those days as at that time there was only one computer in the whole of ESTEC.

After two years I moved to become a data technician/ computer programmer and then in 1985 I became a programmer for the space science department. Although I had already supported this service in my previous job my time was now dedicated entirely to science.

After 12 years I moved to become a systems administrator but in 2002 I requested to move back to programming which I prefer, and which is better suited to my qualifications and character as I prefer working directly with users.

My present job title is Applications Programmer and Software Developer. I am permanently assigned to two scientists working in different areas and it is my job to provide them with support. The first area consists of analysing images of meteors from video tapes and then setting up a database and the software to examine the images. The second area I deal with is writing software to analyse data from Cluster. These are very different tasks but both are very interesting.

When I moved back to programming I found that much had changed and I had to learn new methods, as this is an area that is constantly developing. This is definitely the type of work that I like doing most as it gives me a great deal of job satisfaction.

I have always retained my interest in mathematics and in 1994 commenced studying for a degree in pure mathematics with the UK Open University. It was hard as I was working at the same time but I enjoyed the experience and ESA helped me by financing 50% of the cost of my studies.

Even after all this time I can still say that I like everything about working at ESA. It is easy to become ‘blasé’ and take everything for granted so at times I remind myself how lucky I am to be doing a job that I like, to be working in scientific research and, an added plus, for an international organisation.

I am of Polish origin, have lived in Africa, England and Holland, and have family living in many different European countries so I feel very much at home in an international atmosphere.

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