Noticias y eventos

Mariona Badenas-Agusti explains her experience at the “Young Leaders in the Space Industry” panel

05.08.2017

GTD is pleased to introduce Mariona Badenas-Agusti, a member of the Barcelona office. Mariona received a Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics from Yale University in May 2016 and attended the 2016 Space Studies Program in Israel. At Yale, she served as the Co-President of the Society of Physics Students and as the Outreach Chair of Yale Women in Physics, for which she coordinated lectures and events to improve the lives of students, particularly women, pursuing STEM degrees. She is now working as a project engineer in the space branch of GTD while also being involved in the Space Generation Advisory Council and in Women in Aerospace Europe. In February 2018, she will be the back-up astronomer for the ISU crew going to the MDRS, a mars analog facility in the Southern Utah desert.

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On July 25 2017, I had the privilege to participate in a panel entitled “Young Leaders in the Space Industry,” together with Ruth McAvinia (moderator), Laura Keogh (space lawyer), Jan Walter Scröder (space entrepreneur), and Michala Musilova (astrobiologist). Organized by the International Space University (ISU) at the Cork Institute of Technology, this event took place in the framework of the 2017 Space Studies Program (SSP), a graduate level professional development program aimed at providing an interdisciplinary space-based education to more than 100 participants from across the globe.

The panel began with a discussion of our background and personal interests. After sharing my passion for Astrophysics and the space sciences —a passion that has accompanied me since I was a little girl dreaming of going to space someday— I described my journey to Yale University, where I worked tirelessly and with enthusiasm to turn youthful interests into real academic and career passions. I then explained my current work at GTD, a high-end technology company based in Barcelona with clients in more than 15 countries and with international presence in a variety of sectors, from space and aeronautics, to science and defense. Given the theoretical nature of Astrophysics, I am deeply grateful to GTD for providing me with the valuable opportunity to work in the space industry, a sector more welcoming to professionals with applied technical skills.

As I was reflecting on my personal story, I also mentioned several trips that have had a significant impact on my life, such as hunting the Northern Lights in Iceland, traveling to the Faroe Islands to witness the 2015 total solar eclipse, or going to Baikonur (Kazakhstan) in November 2016 to see the launch of the Soyuz MS-03 for Expedition 50-51. All these personal experiences have nurtured my passion for space and reinforced my desire to continue my work in the space industry.

The second part of the panel was about our decision to apply to ISU and the impact that SSP had had on our career. In the interest of time, I focused on three lessons that I learnt during my SSP experience. First, the importance of receiving a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education on the path to becoming a skilled and well-rounded professional. This educational approach has been tremendously important to me in my life and for my future career. Indeed, SSP’s equal emphasis on the sciences, engineering, the humanities, and the arts is not only consistent with my education in Barcelona –where I attended a school that promoted an interdisciplinary curriculum—, but also with my undergraduate studies at Yale, which benefitted from the liberal arts education system.

At SSP, I was also able to work with and learn from people whose backgrounds were very different from mine. In our teamwork sessions, combining different methodologies resulted in fruitful win-win situations. Finally, SSP allowed me to better understand how to navigate stressful times. In these delicate situations, it is always critical to plan ahead of time, communicate well, surround yourself with the right people, and ask the right questions. 

In the last section of the panel, each of the participants discussed the value of intergenerational work in their lives. Given that mentors have played an important role in my life, I explained my desire to give back to society by teaching and inspiring younger generations. As a woman in STEM —a traditionally male-dominated field—, I hope to encourage little girls to embark on STEM careers, become leaders in their fields, and never give up in the pursuit of their dreams. As stated at the end of the panel: for nobody to be left behind, everyone has to lead.

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At GTD, Mariona Badenas-Agusti is working on ALTAIR, a European Commission Horizon2020 project aimed at developing an innovative space system consisting of an autonomous aircraft-rocket assembly for the launch of small satellites (up to 150kg) to Low Earth Orbit. She has helped develop the ground and in-flight safety algorithms of the rocket and is now conducting research on the types of equipment that could be used for the launcher avionics. Led by Eduard Diez, the ALTAIR team at GTD is composed of David Vallverdú, Carles Pou, Pablo Miralles, Tigran Sargsyan, Mariona Badenas-Agusti and the two new additions Gerard Martínez and Jordi Simó.