SpaceMaster IV is a continuation of the original Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programmes launched in 2004 and implemented by a consortium of leading European universities in close collaboration with research and industrial organizations.
Alum Carmen Fuentes Soria is working for a more sustainable use of space
SpaceMaster is a unique programme that combines the space expertise of five universities. The participating universities are Aalto University (Finland), Luleå University of Technology (Sweden), Cranfield University (United Kingdom), Czech Technical University in Prague (Czech Republic) and Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier (France). Carmen Fuentes Soria studied in two of these universities, Aalto University and Luleå University of Technology in Kiruna.
Why did you want to study in the Space Science and Technology (SpaceMaster) programme?
After doing my bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering in Spain, I wanted to specialise in the space sector. After doing some research, the SpaceMaster programme seemed to be the best option as I also wanted to live abroad to practice my English and get out of my comfort zone. I heard that in this programme, I could live in two different countries (Finland and Sweden), which was such a nice opportunity.
What was it like to study and live abroad?
I was a bit nervous at the beginning as it was my first experience living abroad and all by myself, and I wasn’t very confident with my English. Now, when I look back, it was really the best thing I could do.
I am especially grateful for the international environment I experienced. In this master, you won’t only learn the Finnish and Swedish culture because you’ll meet people from all around the world.
What was it like to study at two different universities?
The teaching and learning were quite similar in both universities, but the environments of Luleå and Aalto are very different. Luleå University is in a lovely small village in the Northern Sweden, where you can go snowboarding and see the Northern lights. And then there is the Helsinki region which is a dynamic place full of opportunities, and the Aalto campus is big and full of life.
What do you find especially interesting about the topic of your studies?
I’m really interested in the sustainability issues related to space. I think we will benefit a lot from space and it will be revolutionary how it will improve our quality of life. But we need to be careful with it as it can’t be a resource we just exploit as we want. We must be cautious and respectful with it.
The other thing about space is that it’s so cool! Since I was a child, I knew I wanted to be an engineer, but I wasn’t sure what kind of engineer I wanted to be. I started to think about space and I was wondering that it must be a difficult topic but I thought I could do it, and I did!
Where are you working now? How did you end up in your current job?
Right now I'm working at Deimos Space, which is a Spanish company focused on engineering solutions, mainly in new space.
I'm working as a System Engineer on important projects, for example, for European Space Agency (ESA).
After my experience abroad I wanted to move back home. I became interested in the company because it’s concerned with the sustainability issues related to space, like space debris. Deimos allowed me to continue my career in the space sector in Spain, working on super interesting projects and interesting career perspectives.
Carmen Fuentes Soria
I'm fascinated by the different cultures and backgrounds which can help you to discover new opportunities and learn from others.
What aspects of your studies have been particularly useful for working life?
Adaptability! I learned a lot about working with people all around the world. Everyone doesn’t work in the same way, and in this work, you must do a lot of teamwork. You must learn to work with different people who come from different cultures and whose ideas are different than yours. You need to be able to talk about your ideas, understand other opinions and reach for the best solution with others. This is also an advantage because things can’t evolve if everyone thinks the same way.
As a System Engineer, you should have a complete view of the systems involved in a space project. You need to know, for example, how spacecrafts work and how to build a satellite. Both universities, Aalto and Luleå have up-to-date information and in both places, you have great opportunities and can learn from the professionals.
What was the best part of your studies?
I loved the programme and its flexibility. I had the feeling that you don't need to memorise and write everything in the test to just forget it the next day. You are meant to learn and enjoy your studies.
I also enjoyed the internship opportunities. I did my internship at ICEYE, which is a Finnish microsatellite manufacturer.
What was the best part of student life?
The people! I'm quite shy but I made friends from all around the world. I'm fascinated by the different cultures and backgrounds which can help you to discover new opportunities and learn from others.
Also, I love snowboarding and sports, and in Kiruna, having the sky resort at a 20-minute walk from my place, was a paradise for me!
In Helsinki, there was always someone wanting to practice different activities with me. I climbed a lot there and enjoyed visiting the city with my friends.
What does the future of your field look like? What kind of opportunities are there?
In the programme, you have a lot of different things you can focus on. The sector is growing a lot and the future seems bright, but as I mentioned earlier, it must be exploited with caution. Space can improve our lives in many ways, but we need to be careful.
What do you want to say to international students who are considering applying to Aalto or this programme?
Go for it! The study programme is really good, and they have experienced professors that are willing to help you with any problem you have. This master’s gives you a really broad view of the space sector, and you can come to this programme even after doing a Bachelor’s degree which is not exactly related to space. You can also choose to focus on certain topics and pick extra courses if you want. Many courses also have a practical side, like on one course we went to see the radio telescope at Metsähovi Radio Observatory, which I really loved!
Finland is a lovely place. I lived in Helsinki when the COVID pandemic was still affecting everything, but I could enjoy a bit of the resources of the super nice campus, so I can imagine how nice it’s now!
Click below to read more about the Space Science and Technology (SpaceMaster) programme. At Aalto, you can also study space science and technology in the Master's Programme in Electronics and Nanotechnology.
Anshuman Dwarakanath Prahlad studies in SpaceMaster joint programme. He thinks that studying in two different universities has been a rewarding experience.