Kinga Albert
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"There were many things that made the program strong in my opinion"

Kinga Albert is an alumnus of the Master Programme in Spacecraft Design.

Where do you work today?

– I am a fist year PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, in Germany. After finishing my masters degree at LTU I had two fields that I felt interested in: on-board data handling for spacecrafts and space instrumentation. I had the great opportunity right after my graduation to become a Young Graduate Trainee at the European Space Agency in the on-board data handling department.

However, during that year I have realised that I wish to continue in academia, and today I am working on a pace instrument that will be launched on the Solar Orbiter mission in 2018. I am researching issues related to instrument autonomy, another of my passions, and implementing solutions for autonomous science data calibration in orbit for deep space missions.

Anything in particular that you appreciated with the Master Programme in Spacecraft Design?

– There were many things that made the program strong in my opinion. One of them certainly was the curriculum itself, with a very broad coverage of topics, including several project courses as well. And this was perhaps one of the best things. You have a large, half-year long project that gives you very precious experiences. You have your own funding, create a project concept, build it, conduct the experiments, analyse your results and document them in a scientific form.

During this time you are fairly independent, supervised by project teachers on the necessary level. You have the possibility for much help from different scientific communities on campus or in your surroundings, however it is up to you to make the most of it. In this time you can face your own problems in your own way, see how you handle stress and conflicts, how you work in a team, do your best and commit your own mistakes without the responsibility for other's people jobs, or for the funding of the group in an academic context. We certainly learned much about ourselves: how we are as professionals, what we like to do, and how we like to work.

What was it like to study and live in Kiruna?

– The word "special" describes it the best I believe. It is certainly an amazing place, with great nature surrounding it. I for one fell in love with the Arctic there, and ever since I left the far North, I miss it.

However as extreme as it seems, Kiruna is still a decent size city, with all the facilities one needs for a comfortable life. We studied at the Space Campus, where we could not only attend the lectures, have a good work environment, and have access to a great library, but also have insight into the life of the a research institute, as the Swedish Institute for Space Physics is housed in the same building as LTU. Furthermore, we had Esrange at about an hour drive away, where we could have field trips, and during the student projects we could use their launch facilities for stratospheric balloons and rockets.

And then of course there are the students, that I must say had a huge influence on me. It is a group of hard working people, all passionate about space, in a very close community. We were perhaps around 60 students at most, studying, living and having fun together.

Looking back at your education at Luleå University of Technology, what was the most important thing you learned?

– It must be a new attitude towards my profession: hard work and passion. I enjoyed very much sharing projects with other students, we learned much from each-other. Seeing different styles of work, different approach to studying, reading literature, and all doing our best to learn the most possible in the field. This spirit is still with me, and I aim to be part of communities that share the same enthusiasm.