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A student satellite project launched alumna Maria Hieta’s career in the space industry

A guest lecture at a university course was so interesting that Maria Hieta, majoring in Space Science and Technology, sent a job application to her future job right away
Aalto-yliopisto / Maria Hieta / photo: Maria Hieta
Maria Hieta works as a research engineer at the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Why did you choose the Space Science and Technology major?

I graduated from Aalto University with a major in space technology, but started in astronomy at the University of Oulu. Space has always been interesting to me, but it was only after my bachelor's degree that I knew to pursue technology. So it took me three years of university study to get into my chosen field!

What was most interesting about your studies?

The most interesting - and at the same time challenging - task was to participate in a project where we designed the first satellite created by students in Finland, the Aalto-1. Because of the satellite project, we were able to get to know and make contact with Finnish space experts and solve real problems in satellite technology and testing as well as project management.

What tools did you get from your studies for work?

Studies have provided a good foundation to learn at work. During my time studying, it may have been difficult to see what benefits each course would ultimately have. In hindsight, however, I can say that I have always benefited even from surprising courses from measurement technique to plasma physics. You never know what you will do in the future.

Where are you working now?

I work as a research engineer at the Finnish Meteorological Institute in the Planetary Research and Space Technology group. My main tasks include testing space equipment, quality assurance and project management, but I also participate in designing and manufacturing new equipment and missions. We have provided measuring instruments for, among others, the NASA Mars 2020 rover.

How did you end up in your current job?

A researcher from the Finnish Meteorological Institute gave a lecture on Mars devices at a course I attended at Aalto University. I sent my job application right away to the Finnish Meteorological Institute and got accepted to summer jobs. I continued my class work while studying and after graduation I started working full-time.

What tips would you give to beginning graduate students?

It is worth participating in project work and getting to know other students as well as making contacts in the industry. Do things that interest you, even if they seem burdensome or time consuming.

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