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Meet two engineers using their maths skills in the space race

Macquarie University graduates and space engineers Blaise Kou Tiong and Jahanzaib Zahoor are using their maths smarts to help Australia compete in the space race

#1 Satellite engineer

In his already fun-filled career, Blaise has helped operate space missions, performed experiments under the ice in Antarctica and worked on mountain peaks in Hawaii. But he says his current job working with satellites is the first one where he’s been able to work on a big project from beginning to end.

“My part in the program is to build the software and systems we need to be able to communicate with the satellite and download the valuable data it collects,” Blaise says.

His university experience provided important foundational knowledge both inside and outside the classroom, he says. “I learnt just as much at my student job as a programmer as I did in the classroom and it exposed me for the first time to a career in space and science operations.”

Fun fact

Blaise is only the second Filipino born person to spend the winter at South Pole Station in Antarctica. “I have met the first, he was an incredible gentleman who was sent down there as an electrician for the US Navy. He has an Antarctic mountain named after him, Ambadala Peak,” Blaise says.

Blaise’s study and career path to becoming a satellite engineer

  • Bachelor of Science (Mathematics-Applied Sciences), UCLA
  • Software Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
  • Winterover Experiment Operator, US Antarctic Program, IceCube Collaboration 
  • Master Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • System Administrator, Canada France Hawaii Telescope 
  • PhD Astronomy, Macquarie University
  • Senior Ground Test Infrastructure Engineer, Satellites, Gilmour Space Technologies

#2 Mechanical Engineer

Having loved design and technology, maths and physics at school, Jahanzaib always wanted to get into aeronautical engineering.

Now in his role as a mechanical engineer at Australian Astronomical Optics, Jahanzaib researches and prototypes things he could only dream about at school.

“All the work is related to the study of space and light which is in itself exciting,” Jahanzaib says. 

And he reckons the coolest part is designing instruments that will actually get launched into space.

“Every instrument is different and a one-off in the world,” Jahanzaib says.

He credits his STEM study for providing the grounding to be able to engineer solutions to real-world problems.

Fun fact

Jahanzaib is learning to fly airplanes in his spare time!

Jahanzaib’s path to becoming a mechanical engineer

  • Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Honours), Macquarie University
  • Mechanical engineer, Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO)

This article was brought to you in partnership with Macquarie University, and a version of it originally appeared in Careers with STEM: Maths + Data

For more inspiration on careers in space check out these career stories.

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