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Women space experts: the first in our series of inspiring interviews with ArianeGroup specialists
Franziska got to know ArianeGroup through the company’s Girls Day and through work experience. “I was impressed by the whole atmosphere, by the way colleagues interacted with each other and by the topic of space itself,” she says. “I knew this was exactly where I wanted to work.”
Can you describe your job for non-specialists?
My job title is Mechanical Design Engineer. I work in the design office in Bremen, where we are part of the Ariane 6 upper stage development. The upper stage is the part of a launcher which brings the satellite to the right place in space. We make sure that all the different parts which we need fit together at the end. For this I work with a 3D model on the computer.
That must involve a huge amount of parts.
We receive the different parts of the upper stage, like tanks, piping, insulation, as 3D parts and assemble them onto an upper stage in the computer model. We define the volumes/dimensions, the position of equipment and the fixing methods and elements. My job is to align with the partners, with our integration teams, and with mechanical and thermal activities colleagues. Specifically I am responsible for design topics of the equipped and insulated tanks.
What led you to ArianeGroup?
I grew up in Bremen and first heard about ArianeGroup when looking for interesting possibilities for an internship. I applied and did an internship in the field of electron beam welding. The team was great and I felt entirely welcome. My mentor for that two-week period was Erika Goldmann, a welding specialist who started as one of very few women in technical jobs at the company 30 years ago. It was inspiring to meet and work with her. Then, I applied for the Dual placement/study System to study mechanical production and engineering. After that, I wrote my thesis in the design department and got a contract. I never left!
Working in space, is it a job that calls for passion?
For sure space is a “passion” job. It is something that people working in space-related jobs live for and also have an interest in in their private lives.
How did this passion start for you?
I was always fascinated by airplanes. My mom used to tell me about the women piloting the plane so that I would learn that everything was possible for me. Now, my parents are proud of me working as engineer in space technology. They do not have an academic background so they always supported me where they could to help me to fulfill my dreams of becoming an engineer. They were always careful to let me and my brother grow up without preconceived ideas about gender and jobs.
What makes Ariane different from other launchers?
It’s a European collaborative project with many countries and companies involved in working together on the Ariane launchers.
What about the international aspect of Ariane?
I love the international factor in ArianeGroup. There is a big French part in the company where there is in some aspects a different way of working but this keeps the diversity and the discussions about the way of working on-going. It also gives me a lot of interesting contacts and people to work with, as I also have colleagues of various nationalities in Bremen.
Any advice for people who want to get a job in aerospace?
If you are interested in aerospace, apply for an internship, get to know more about the work and if you are into it, don’t be afraid of starting to study engineering. Look into the possibilities of combined study.
What is your favorite Ariane mission?
Ariane 6’s maiden flight is definitely the one I am looking forward to the most.