Even before considering to embark on the road that ultimately led to working on a PhD in applied physics, I was a big space enthusiast – from the works of literature to scientific documentaries, space exerted a strong fascination. Born into a large family with many languages, I was soon able to read the classics in their original language and naturally choose for more science classes in high school.
The realisation that space fascinates everybody regardless of age, cultural or educational background came slowly working in volunteer associations, organizing public outreach events on astronomy and physics. Towards the end of my master course in physics I had the chance to work in a small SME on an ion engine, preparing to graduate from university, giving me an appreciation of just how hard it is to do anything in space. Space requires a high level of cooperation – not just between engineers and researchers, but involving many areas beyond and in between. I thus volunteered as intern for the European Space Policy Institute and for the Space Generation Advisory Council.
I believe that all engineers and scientists should explore similar experiences – public communication and interdisciplinary cooperation are key for many aspects of space. The IAF has played a key role in giving me the opportunity to expand my own international network. This is facilitated by the work of several IAF committees focussed on working with the next generation of STEM YPs. I decided to join SEOC and the WD-YPP committees of the IAF to allow others to make the same experiences. I am very grateful for the mentoring I received over the years, especially as Next Generation Panellist in Toronto.