Rocio.jpg

Kritee Mahanti

Masters Student

KTH Royal Institute of Technology

And - ADCS Engineer

,,

If you truly would like to pursue a career in STEM but you think there are too many obstacles in the way, do not lose hope and do not give up.

,,

WHAT DO YOU DO?

Presently, I am writing my Master thesis at the KTH Royal Insitute of Technology, Sweden as part of my Master's studies in Electromagnetics, Fusion and Space Engineering. The thesis work is based on a private small satellite mission in Sweden. I am required to study the mission's flight software, its navigation, and control aspects and perform Hardware in loop simulation and tests on the Attitude Determination and Control System hardware. I mainly work with the sensors such as sun sensors, star tracker, magnetometers, and actuators such as the reaction wheels and magnetorquers that would be onboard the satellite. The sensors and actuators together help the satellite to navigate through space. Therefore, one of my main tasks is to look into the software handling these devices.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

My desire to embark on a journey in the field of space engineering was developed in my childhood. It was in 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia incident took place, I was in Grade 3, then. Kalpana Chawla, the 1st Indian American female astronaut was on her 2nd mission, here. Concepts of outer space, the solar system, and its nine planets had just been introduced to us in school. I was greatly inspired after watching the extensive news coverage of Kalpana Chawla’s life in the media. As a child, the deadly consequence of the space mission scared me; and innocently, I thought to myself that I would like to facilitate space missions from the Earth. That decision made as a child has stayed with me ever since. It was my first exposure to the world of space, and ever since, I have never wished to step out of it.

HOW DO/DID YOU TACKLE OBSTACLES?

Courses in aerospace engineering are offered in very few institutions in India. The number of seats is low and the number of applicants very high. So, I decided to pursue my bachelor's studies in Electronics and Communication Engineering. After graduating, there were very few job opportunities in the space engineering field. The Indian Space Programme is of course very successful and highly sought after but to get a chance in it is tough. So, I had to look abroad in order to further my education. Also, my home city in India, Kolkata does not have any opportunities in the particular sector. So a career in space engineering means, I will never be able to stay in my home city. This is something that saddens me. Nevertheless, as someone with no connections in the space industry to be eventually working in a real space mission, I feel happy to have fulfilled my childhood dream.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

I was always keen on pursuing a career in the field of space. But, in my school days, I did not have the complete knowledge regarding how I should go about my dream. I had the wrong notion that a career in space meant physics and engineering in a core field such as electrical or mechanical. Personally, I was good with software programming and would have pursued my studies in computer science, if the younger me had the proper guidance. Now I know, that space is not only about science and engineering but there is a lot of scope in other disciplines such as medicine, geology, anthropology, economy, and so on.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

I am intrigued and awed by the laws of science. The ways in which the common things we witness in our surroundings can be explained through science and technology fascinate me. This motivates me to delve deeper and work on concepts that have the capability to change the world! I look forward to making that slight impact, that helps make someone's life easier. When I visualize my work taking shape in the laboratory, it really excites me.

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

If you truly would like to pursue a career in STEM but you think there are too many obstacles in the way, do not lose hope and do not give up. There is always a way! You simply need to have the patience to work through the million permutations and combinations and find the correct path.

INSPIRATION

“Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there's footprints on the moon.”

― Paul Brandt