Space standards prove a hit with students
The ESA Academy has provided yet another successful training course to university students from ESA Member and Associate Member States contemplating a career in the aerospace sector.
Twenty-two students, representing 13 nationalities, assembled at ESA’s European space Security and Education Centre (ESEC) in Belgium between 6 and 9 June 2017 to learn about European Cooperation for Space Standardisation (ECSS).
Space exploration and utilisation is hard enough at the best of times, so anything that can be done to make it easier is to be seized with both hands.
ECSS is an initiative to develop a coherent, single set of user-friendly standards for all European space activities. It is to be used as technical attachments to a contract when procuring Space products and services. The standard defines the agreed way of doing something for example by reaching consensus for manufacturing or operating a product, managing a process, organizing elements, delivering documents and providing services or supplies (including parts, components and materials). The merit of ECSS is that this agreement has been reached between potential customers and suppliers, that is, between European Space Agencies (including ESA) and the European Industry. This is why ECSS is important.
It aims to minimise technical risk and cost for space systems and space products development, while ensuring the compatibility of all elements of a space project. It is therefore essential to everything that ESA does.
“This was the first time ESA Academy offered a course on Standardisation and although such topics may seem a little dry, it really gives a good idea of what ESA is about and what are the challenges that one may have while developing a satellite, other than the pure engineering side,” said an Italian student from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom.
The students learned from eleven experts about the importance of using standards and the impact they have on the way space activities are implemented. This included learning about the ECSS System and Management, Spacecraft Mechanisms, Product Assurance and Quality Assurance, Systems Engineering and Ground System and Operations. In addition to the lectures, the students were also toured around ESEC.
“I found the course incredibly valuable, both in terms of the educational content and as an opportunity for networking with colleagues from across Europe and Canada. The material that was covered was never something that I was exposed to either as an undergraduate or now as a postgraduate student, and the expertise of the lecturers was clearly unparalleled. It was also an excellent opportunity to get to know and exchange ideas with a diverse group of fellow students from a range of different backgrounds and, who knows, quite possibly forming the basis for future international collaborations,” said a British student from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.
At the end of the course the students were evaluated via a multiple choice questionnaire prepared by the experts. With their certificate of participation and course transcript, the students can now claim ECTS credits from their respective universities.
Another opportunity for them was to meet like-minded students. “We got through a lot of very different topics and I learned how to apply the ECSS standards to all of them. And that is exactly what I was here for. In addition to that, I met a group of highly motivated young people that are going to be the ESA experts in the near future,” said a German student from the Technical University of Munich, Germany.
It’s a motivation and a passion that could last their whole career. As another student, an Italian from the University of Toulouse, France, noted of the ESA personnel that lectured on this training course, “It is incredible to see how much these people love what they do, even after 30 years. Truly inspiring!”
Run as a pilot course, it proved to be such a success that the ESA Education is already looking at running it again next year. In the meantime, the following courses are open for applications and you can find them on this link.