The Big Picture
Daisy graduated from the University of Leeds with a BSc in Physics with Astrophysics and now works as a Junior Aerospace Engineer at B2Space, based in Newport, Wales. Her main role is analysis with a specific focus on trajectory analysis:
“This whole year I’ve pretty much been designing code and and writing code that takes in live weather data and updates it and plots the trajectory of our rockoon.”
Daisy explained that a rockoon is a combination of a rocket and a high altitude balloon. Rockoon technology allows smaller companies to access space for less cost as they can skip the lower part of the atmosphere and launch from higher altitudes.
“My job was mainly just making a code that plotted the trajectory of the rockoon system based on the different inputs, because not many people have done that before. So there’s not really a software out there we could have used. So currently, I’m updating the software and adding extra features into it and debugging.”
Daisy doesn’t only work with the rockoon and trajectory analysis, as her workplace offers her a lot of freedom to pick up new projects where there’s time and reason. Upon joining the company, Daisy made it clear that she wanted to work with rockets themselves, and has since built two rockets from scratch, from ordering the components to overseeing the launch procedure.
The Application Process
“I did my internship through the SPIN scheme, Catapult. They do quite a lot of internships. I knew about it because I had always been interested in the space industry because I did the CanSat competition in 2018 and we won the UK one and went to compete in the European competition. So through that I met a lot of people and I got invited to a lot of opportunities.”
Daisy originally wanted to go into further research while still studying for her degree, but after her experience in the CanSat competition where she got to meet so many people in the space industry and was invited to so many opportunities, she realised that that was what she wanted to be doing – working in a team environment and interacting with that circle of professionals.
“I want to be on the forefront and actually physically doing things and be more involved with the project like I was on CanSat because I loved it, and through that I heard about Catapult and the SPIN scheme, which is just Space Placements in Industry, which is fab like everyone should look into them, because there are some really really cool ones.”
Daisy applied to five placements through the SPIN scheme and secured a spot at B2Space doing Engineering Origami, a role which involved coding folded and unfolded shapes with the aim of designing a habitable space module that would fit onto the International Space Station. Despite having a place lined up to do a Masters at UCL, a place that she had worked really hard to get, she enjoyed her time at B2Space that much that she asked if she could stay on and they said yes.
“I can always go back and do a masters, but I don’t necessarily know that this job in this smaller company will be available forever.”
Daisy hoped to launch rockets in her career, and she was able to do that at B2Space. She didn’t expect to be given as much independence from her manager and team as fast as she was, and struggled with imposter syndrome.
“When they said independence, I remember thinking I’m not good enough. It was a lot of impostor syndrome. I think everyone gets it. So to start off with, I was daunted. But then after my first couple of tasks and them saying ‘Yeah, that’s fine. You’ve done a good job.’ I was like what? Really? It was learning to trust myself because they already did, and if it went wrong it was fine. They would say ‘That’s okay. We’ve learnt something.’”
The more Daisy worked at B2Space and was reassured that she was capable and that she was producing high quality work, the less she doubted her own abilities.
“Our purpose is to provide a reliable, flexible and low cost access to Low Earth Orbit for small and micro satellites, democratise space access and facilitate the development of new technologies and uses of space” – B2Space
Working for a small company provides many opportunities that big companies aren’t able to offer to early career graduates, such as more responsibility and having your opinions more highly valued and heard.
“Because we’re small we get to see so much progression. We get to see so many achievements. The percentage growth this company has had compared to if I had gone into a bigger company is huge. I can see a lot of potential to work with some really interesting customers because so far we have worked with some really cool people.”
The Learning Curve
At university, Daisy struggled with coding as it didn’t serve any wider purpose, but within her current role, Daisy has found that she enjoys being able to solve her problems computationally. After joining B2Space, she learned how to use MatLab and has used that for much of her tenure so far, but is now learning Julia as the company transitions to utilising more open source coding.
“At uni, I thought no, I’m never doing coding ever again. I hated it. I also thought I would never be able to understand it, and I thought it was just completely out of my reach. I underestimated how useful it would be, and I’m really glad I’ve learned it now, because it is so useful, and it opens up so many job prospects like if I wanted to move into a different job now I’ve got so many more options than I would have done had I not learnt code. I had to learn a different language as soon as I started but I think I learned it better with the company, because there’s a purpose for it. I really struggled with coding at uni and now it feels like second nature to me because I’m using it every day for a purpose.”
Additionally, despite studying Physics with Astrophysics, Daisy hadn’t learned anything that would constitute an Aerospace Engineering degree. Her colleagues at B2Space gave her time to learn on the job and offered help if she got stuck with any new concepts.
Daisy’s main piece of advice is for students to say yes to as many opportunities as they can, regardless of whether it is directly related to their future career plans.
“Even if it’s going into a school to give a presentation. It might sound really boring and maybe you don’t really want to talk to kids that aren’t interested. But just do it. I did CanSat because I was bored one lunch, and it literally got me this job and changed my entire life.”
Without doing CanSat, Daisy would not have entered into the space industry so early or had the opportunity to network as much as she did through the competition.
“The people you meet will be valuable in some aspects.”
The Next Step
Daisy thoroughly enjoys her position at B2Space and can’t see herself moving on from the company anytime soon. Internal progression, however, is not off the table, and Daisy has some interest in becoming a manager to manage a team of rocket scientists.
“My family are always like ‘You’ve got your dream job, that’s great, but you’ve got to think about progression. You’ve got to have something to aim for.’ But I’m very happy with what I’m doing, and I think for my 20s that’s okay. We’re such a small company, we get to see so much progression, we get to see so many achievements.”