As part of the “Space career paths” series: an interview with Adam Dąbrowski

Please introduce yourself.

I am a research assistant at Gdansk University of Technology. I am also a specialist at Polish Space Agency.

What are you doing at your work?

At my work at the university I teach students about space technologies, especially mechanics and electronics. I also do research in space technology. I pursue my PhD in vibrations of space systems. At the Polish Space Agency I work in education department. I focus on the cooperation with universities and help students to pursue their career in a space sector.

What made your to choose the space career path?

I’ve always wanted to become an engineer. I studied in Hamburg, Germany and I started working there after my master degree. But then I had a call from a professor from Gdańsk. And he told me that Poland has just recently joined to European Space Agency. The space sector needed young people. I was excited over a perspective of research in that field and I thought it would be a great challenge. Also, I thought it could be lot of fun to work in this young sector, which started rapidly grow. I decided to come back to Poland.

What education is the most important?

It is important to know that space sector is not only engineers, it is also scientists, lawyers, biologists, administration people. The people you need in any industry, you need also in space sector. Obviously, exquisite education in your specific field is required. You need to know how to organise you work, so lot of management, organisation skills are useful as well. Finally, sector-specific knowledge is useful, but that can be acquired during first years of work experience. So, in short –  be an expert in your field and you will be fine.

Is English language really important?

It is the most important language in ESA. All the documentation, especially for engineers, is written in English. You have to cooperate with many people. There is no such of thing as a Polish or even European space sector – it’s global. That means extensive collaboration with people of various backgrounds, education and culture from all over the world. Sometimes it is useful to know a local language, especially in Europe is a great way to enhance your communication and befriend people. But English is the most important.

What are other important languages?

Actually, it depends on who you are working with. There majority of European industry in located in Germany and France, thus German and French would be helpful. If someone wish to work as an engineer for ESA – the technical headquarters is in the Netherlands, so consider Dutch.

What is the more important in you work right now? Academic knowledge or maybe your experience?

As I said before I have two jobs. One is work for the university. Obviously, the academic knowledge is very important. You have to know your basics to teach the students properly. But I think the industry experience is very useful. I would say you need certain basic level of academic work and then experience. The thing that the space is very fresh in Poland. Which means that the academia provides very useful knowledge but on a certain level. Then you need to get the knowledge from somewhere else: courses, workshops, conferences which basically makes the experience. It is not one of these jobs where you start on the university and you finish and you know everything. It’s changing so fast. You have to learn constantly and always.

And you have to be a passionate.

Yes. I guess that you don’t have to be a passionate but it really helps. You would be cooperating with great people that are doing fantastic things. You have only dream of like 20 years ago and now it’s become the reality. This drives you interesting what you are doing. You will find lot of people with passion in there.

Could be work in space sector interesting for young people?

Well, if just the name “space sector” isn’t interesting enough I would say that you have great opportunity to do now something impossible like 10 years ago.  You are really at the edge of the technology. I am engineer and I am doing things which were impossible before. All the limits, all the requirements are so strict that you really have to solve those problems perfectly. You have only one try because it’s really hard to go back to that you have send to space before. You cannot fix or repair something. It really have to be perfect at the first shot. All the quality level, all the product assurance, all the safety measurements have to be top standard. You will learn great lots during this job and you also have lot of fun. All the people who work in the sector are very passionate. They have fantastic stories of what they have done before. It’s great privilege to work for the space sector.

Did you think that you would work in space when you were a teenager?

I was very interested in astronomy but more in romantic side like watching the stars. I was thinking what is out there. I always wanted to be an engineer but somehow it didn’t come to me in the way I could merge this. But here I am having send some stuff to space. I think it was somewhere always in me but I probably wasn’t very conscious at that time.

Thank you!


Photo Credits: Adam Dąbrowski