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LTU-alumni awarded Amelia Earhart Fellowship

Published: 28 June 2013

Maike Brigitte Neuland, 28, studied the Erasmus Master Programme of Space Science and Technology at Luleå University of Technology. Now she has been awarded the Amelia Earhart Fellowship that helps talented women to pursue advanced studies in aerospace-related sciences and engineering.

- I chose a path of education that is more usual for men than women, which of course does not mean that girls are less successful in this field. With the studies that I completed, including internships in industry at EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company) and DLR (German Aeronautics and Space Research Centre) I set a good base for my career and now I am continuing with a PhD. Being awarded the Amelia Earhart Fellowship shows me that my work is acknowledged and supported and this also motivates me again to keep to it and to share my passion especially with other female students, says Maike Brigitte Neuland.

She and her fellow students from round five of the Master programme came to Kiruna, the Swedish space Capital, for the second semester of LTU:s Master programme during the period of February to June 2010.

- In Kiruna we attended classes in Image Processing, Optics- and Radar-based Observations, Electronics for Space Applications, but my favourite course was Space Environment Interaction, a lecture about the environment and hazards, a spacecraft has to withstand during a mission.

What did you think about your time at LTU?

- I liked the school in Kiruna very much. The university facility there is comparably small, but it was intense and familial in close cooperation with the teachers and researchers. The courses were well organized and always connected to practical tasks such as labs, practical assignments, excursions, which I liked a lot. I loved the surrounding, living above the Arctic Circle, the nature and weather. Kiruna is a very special place.

Maike Brigitte Neuland is now doing a PhD in the department of Space Research and Planetary Sciences at that University of Bern. She is part of a research group that is working on a laser ablation mass spectrometer (LMS) that is built to measure the chemical (elemental and isotopic) composition of solids, like a planetary surface or alike.

- I am doing measurements and studies on meteorites and samples to demonstrate the performance, accuracy and precision of the instrument. I would be glad to to see our LMS instrument flying to a planet, moon or asteroid onboard a spacecraft one day.

What was the most important lesson that you learned during your studies?

- I experienced again that good team work is fruitful and efficient. For many assignments we had to work in small teams, which I liked, because I could learn a lot from my team mate, who had a different background than I have. And moreover, in Kiruna we lived close together with all our class mates, which made it easily possible to study and prepare for exams in groups. It helped me a lot and made studying easier.

 Why are you fascinatied about space?

- It is the unknown that fascinates me. Today we have possibilities to do research on other planets not only by earth-based observations and remote sensing but also by planetary landers and rovers. I find it exciting the process of designing, building and testing high-tech flight hardware and finally flying an instrument onboard a spacecraft to a planet, moon or alike to collect data there. I am fascinated by the fact that we can find out more about the formation and evolution of stars, planets, moons and all the celestial bodies.

The Amelia Earhart Fellowship enables these women to invest in state-of-the-art computers to conduct their research, purchase expensive books and resource materials, and participate in specialized studies around the globe. Amelia Earhart Fellows have gone on to become astronauts, aerospace engineers, astronomers, professors, geologists, business owners, heads of companies, even Secretary of the US Air Force. Since the program's inception, 1,403 Amelia Earhart Fellowships, has been awarded to women from 68 countries.