Skip to main content

SMAE students make it to European Space Agency workshop

Two SMAE students, George Morris (above right) and Ralph Heward-Mills (above left, centre), were selected to attend a workshop at the European Space Agency (ESA). The workshop, which was labelled as “Concurrent Engineering Challenge 2018”, enabled students from an ESA member or associate state with an engineering or physics background to take part in activities on designing and developing products in the space sector. The workshop was held from 22 to 26 October 2018 in the Academy’s Training and Learning Centre.

Of the two selected students, Ralph, who is an Aerospace Engineering Masters student currently on placement at Airbus, was able to attend it in person at European Space Security and Education Centre (ESEC) in Redu, Belgium. The selection process was rigorous and only 30 Masters/PhD students were selected from around the EU based on academic performance, references and a statement of interest. The opportunity to attend this workshop came about after one of the academics in the school, Dr Amar Behera, came across this opportunity and encouraged the cohort of students he had taught the previous year to apply.

At the workshop, the challenge was to employ concurrent engineering methods used by ESA to produce a satellite constellation concept to service shipping and air traffic above the Arctic Circle. Groups of students were given a specific mission to design in four days and supervised by two system engineers. The aim was to familiarise students with the concurrent engineering approach and its benefits, and to learn how ESA assesses technical and financial feasibility of space missions. Ralph was a part of the mechanisms sub-system, tasked to design the deployable solar arrays, deployment and pointing mechanisms for antennae of various bands, as well as the launch adapter that secures the 8 identical satellite busses to the launch vehicle. The week was a chance to meet engineers inside the European Space Agency, and connect with students from all over Europe with a similar ambition in space engineering.

This was in parallel to 3 other university teams at TU Delft, Lulea and Madrid, and a key part of the challenge was presenting progress and working collaboratively with the over 100 total students involved in the project. The spaces on this course were extremely competitive, and the selection of our students for the challenge is testament to the quality and relevance of the projects completed at the mechanical and aerospace Engineering courses at Queen’s.

More details on this workshop can be found at