Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Tracey Roche from Analog Devices to give some advice for people considering this job:

Tracey Roche

Design Engineer

Analog Devices

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Tracey Roche

3 main things:

1. Be organised.

2. Try to keep a positive attitude.

3. Persevere. Working in a Design Evaluation role or indeed any electronic engineering role, requires problem-solving skills and half the battle with this is having a positive attitude. If you have a negative/pessimistic attitude, the battle to find a solution is lost before you even start. In debugging an issue, start with the basics and work from there. Like peeling an onion, gradually peel off the outter layers to reveal the inner core of the you work, you get more clues and develop a better understanding of the product/issue you are working on.


Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Space Science & Technology

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At a Glance... header image

Space Science & Technology

For many people, a career in the space industry means the exciting job of becoming an astronaut and making trips to outer space, but this futuristic sector contains a lot more opportunities.

The space industry is dominated by scientists and engineers who want to play a part in the growing space science and technology sector. On offer is a vast array of opportunities that cover many different specialist disciplines. Behind the scenes, there are also a substantial number of managers, administrators and technical service staff.

Video: The most competitive launchers - ESA

NEW! Space Careers Booklet from NASA ~ October 2017

Opportunities with Irish in this Sector
Space Science header image

Space Science is the study of everything in outer space. It includes astrophysics and planetary science.

Astrophysics is related to astronomy and focuses on the physics of the universe. It involves studying the planets, stars, moons and other celestial objects in order to understand the universe and make new discoveries.

Planetary Science is the study of planetary systems across the Solar System and beyond, examining planetary magnetospheres, moon interactions, surfaces and comets.

The space industry is dominated by scientists and engineers who want to play a part in the growing space science and technology sector. On offer is a vast array of opportunities that cover many different specialist disciplines. Behind the scenes, there are also substantial numbers of managers, administrators and technical service staff.

The majority of employees working in this field have an undergraduate degree, and many have studied at postgraduate level, but not all.

Photo: ESA Astronaut Tim Peake in Cupola
Tim Peake graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1992 as an officer in the Army Air Corps. He became a helicopter flying instructor in 1998 before being selected for a post with the US Army, flying Apache helicopters. In 2005 he graduated from the Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS) in the UK. He received a degree in flight dynamics and evaluation in 2006. Tim was the senior Apache test pilot and was also the Squadron Training Officer. He has logged over 3000 hours flying time on more than 30 types of helicopter and fixed wing aircraft. He was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009 have applied to an advert that asked 'Do you wnat to become an astronaut?'. 

There are many specialised fields in which a person who is interested in space can embark, and have an exciting and challenging career.

Typically, workers have STEM backgrounds - in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths, or a qualification in a related area, such as law or business is also desired. 

Job roles in the space industry cover a wide range of specialisations: mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, communications and systems engineers. 

Mechanical and materials engineers develop the 'hardware' required for space science and exploration. This would include the equipment and technology needed. Electronic or systems engineers develop the 'software' that is essential to run this equipment and ensure that they are working correctly. 

Maths is at the core of a number of these roles, especially in the analysis of the large amounts of data produced by space instruments and in calculating the orbits of space vehicles.

Video: Interview with Daniel Vagg, a System Architect with Parameter Space Limited, discussing his studies and career to-date, as part of the Smart Futures STEM Careers programme and ESERO.

Click to view full document

Ireland is a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) and has a large role to play in the space programmes of Europe. 

The ESA, along with partner Irish companies, provide numerous exciting opportunities to work in the space sector.

Read 'Ireland's Space Endeavours' from Enterprise Ireland.

Irish companies take part in numerous European wide space programmes involving all areas of space science and technology. The space sector here employs over 1,000 people and this is expected to increase with the number of companies in the Irish space market likely to grow in the coming years. Surprisingly, the space industry is one of the few industries in Ireland which has continued to grow, despite recent economic circumstances.

Over 70 Irish companies and research groups have secured an estimated €70m in ESA development contracts over the past ten years and this number is expected to grow significantly in the next three years.

Enterprise Ireland is the Irish body responsible for co-ordinating Ireland’s industrial and research participation in the programmes of the European Space Agency (ESA). Enterprise Ireland supports Irish companies’ participation in the European Space programme. Enterprise Ireland’s role is to assist Irish companies to successfully bid for ESA contracts and help them exploit their technologies in the commercial space market.

Several Irish companies were able to secure contracts from ESA worth an initial total value of €3.5 million to develop and supply components for the Galileo satellites and the extensive ground-based network of the satellite control system.
The Irish companies involved include:
  • Airtel ATN Ltd, Dublin;
  • Daysha Consulting Ltd, Dublin;
  • Measurement Specialities (MSI), Galway;
  • The National Space Centre Ltd, Midleton, Cork;
  • Skytek Ltd, Dublin; Sogeti, Dublin and Galway
  • Zelinda Ltd, Waterford.
A full list of companies in the Irish Space Sector is available here from Enterprise Ireland.

Who are the Space Employers? (Space Careers, NASA, Oct 2017)

Where to study

There are numerous universities and institutes in Ireland where bachelor degrees can be obtained in space related subjects such as astronomy, physics & astrophysics, space science and engineering. Space-related post graduate research projects can also be pursued at the majority of these universities: 
  • Dublin City University: B.Sc. in Physics with Astronomy DC167
  • Dublin Institute of Technology:Physics Technology DT222
  • University College Dublin: Physics with Astronomy & Space Science DN200
  • University of Limerick: Aeronautical Engineering LM077 
  • University College Cork: Physics and Astrophysics CK408
  • NUI Maynooth: Physics and Astrophysics MH204
  • NUI Galway:Physics and Astrophysics GY320
  • Trinity College Dublin: Theoretical Physics TR035
Science and engineering are the prime drivers of space technology but lots of other subjects are relative to the space industry also. Use the Course Finder to explore the full list of courses relevant to this sector.

See also:  International Space University, Strasbourg, France

Video: Careers In Space ~ My heart beats for mathematics. Anna Heffernan holds a PhD in Fundamental Physics and shares her experiences as an ESA Research Fellow with us.

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Earth Observation & Environment header image

Earth observation and environment is about gaining a better understanding of the earth, its composition, how it functions, and the effects that human behaviour can cause.

Integral to this area is the examination of the effects of climate change, pollution, over-use of natural resources, and how these issues can be tackled.

Scientists use data from Earth observation satellites to monitor global and regional changes in the environment, as well as to learn more about the Earth system and improve predictions of future environmental conditions.

Photo: ESA NASA Space Craft Hub
Scientists here work in areas such as atmospheric science, environmental chemistry, ecology, and geoscience.

Careers in this area require skills in physical and mathematical EO algorithms, data assimilation into models and in the comparison of EO data and models.

Did you know ...

Ireland boasts the largest national astronomy club in the world relative to population aptly named "Astronomy Ireland," who aims to promote astronomy, space interest and education through talks, lectures, observing sessions and other events nationwide. 

Find out more about Astronomy Ireland here.
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Technology header image

Launching a satellite into space to orbit the earth, or a probe to visit another celestial body, remains a huge challege for space science, despite the major progress that has been achieved in recent decades. 

Several families of rockets have been developed (i.e. Soyuz, Ariane, Atlas, Delta) and satellites have become the essential platform for space research. They are launched into different orbits, depending on their mission - to function as communication, earth observation, navigation or positioning technologies.

Space technology is the area where the tools and equipment required to explore the far reaches of the universe are developed. For example, spacecraft structures, mechanisms, and launcher propulsion, thermal control technology, environment control, life support technology, robotics and optics. 

This is an innovative and exciting career area. It is at the cutting edge of new technologies. New developments in information technologies, computing power and molecular research into materials are all contributing to rapidly advancing these technologies. Manufacturing technology for the sector is leaping forward with developments such as 3D printing or 'Additive manufacturing' which is currently under study in several space agencies and related industrial producers. These technologies have been tested in the space sector to produce models and prototypes. Space agencies and industry are looking at integrating these capacities into industrial processes, testing different metal alloys to build parts and create new equipment.

Technologies are usually developed to respond to specific needs. However, once they are developed, they may have multiple uses. Over the years, technologies developed in the space sector have found their way into sectors as diverse as health and medicine, transportation, manufacturing practices and materials, and computer technologies. For example, air purification systems in hospital intensive care wards started out as space technologies; radar surveying of tunnel rock is now used to improve safety for miners; enhanced materials developed for use in space are now used in a variety of sporting products, from racing yachts, to sports shoes. Ultrasound and cardiac imaging both derived from camera technologies onboard NASA earth survey satellites.

Developers work on increasingly complex system architectures. Whole new classes of missions for navigation, communications, remote sensing and scientific research for both civilian and military purposes, are being designed in universities, research centres and industry.

All of these developments bring together a diverse range of skills and qualifications. This is an attractive career sector for people who are curious, creative and inventive and who like excitement and innovation. The sector is home to many highly-skilled professionals, mainly technicians, scientists and engineers.

The range of technology disciplines required can be quite wide, depending on the specific area of activity - mechanical, mechatronic electronic, electrical, biomedical, communications and software engineering, as well as basic science subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology and maths - all are valuable skills in this area.

Applied Mathematics & Data Processing

Careers in the space sector utilise the skill of mathematical analysis in a practical environment, to identify problems and engineer solutions in space programme development. This is necessary to support the work of all divisions in the Space Science and Technology sector to ensure the smooth running of every project.

Science and Engineering roles in the space industry cover a wide range of specialisations, for example, mechanical, electrical, communications and systems engineers. Mechanical and materials engineers develop the hardware required for space science and exploration. This would include the equipment and technology needed. 

Electronic or systems engineers develop the software that is essential to run this equipment and ensure that they are working correctly. Mathematics is at the core of a number of roles, especially in the analysis of the large amounts of data produced by space instruments and in calculating the orbits of space vehicles.

The space sector is a technology intensive industry, and the work that is carried out is highly specialised. Companies in Ireland are involved in the areas of electronics, aerospace, structures, materials, hardware and software, all of which are integral components needed for space programmes. 

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