Alexandra Wander

Space Operations Engineer and Research Scientist, DLR (German Aerospace Center)

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Ask for advice, early and often. You don't have to figure out everything all by yourself.

What do you do?

I am developing innovative technologies for operating future spacecraft in an efficient manner and researching cognitive autonomy for space systems on-board and on ground applications.

Why did you choose this field?

In 11th grade, during the vocational orientation at the job center, I came across a folder that said "Aerospace Engineer". Math and physics were my favourite subjects in school anyway, but back it was discussed among teachers if it would be a good idea for a girl to take on these subjects as advanced courses.

To aid in my decision-making process, my godmother arranged an internship at the German Aerospace Center's site in Lampoldshausen, where they develop and test rocket engines. It was there, watching the only female engineer on the site working on the test of a powerful rocket engine that I decided I want to do that, too.

I successfully completed my A-Levels with Math and physics as advanced courses, studied aerospace engineering with focus on space technology and satellites systems engineering and ended up researching autonomous space mission operations.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Right now, I am preparing for giving a TEDx talk about my research and ideas. Younger me would never have believed that it would be possible being invited to speak on stage at such an amazing event.

Why do you love working in STEM?

Working on space technology is amazing. I love learning new things every day. Waking up
I am looking forward to work in an inspired team to transform the way we operate spacecraft using AI methods.

Best advice for next generation?

Follow your dream and don't let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. Find a (female) role model. Build a network. Ask for advice, early and often. You don't have to figure out everything all by yourself.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough." (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf)

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