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Brenan Dew

Space Discovery Centre manager

Macquarie University

A combined passion for archaeology and space led Brenan Dew to a career that’s out of this world

From excavating ancient tombs to talking about space, Brenan Dew has had an impressively diverse career. “I didn’t really have a career plan,” he says. “I’ve always done what I find curious and along the way I’ve picked up transferable skills.”

As manager of the Australian Space Agency’s Australian Space Discovery Centre, he helps young people to see the variety of careers in this sector. “Yes, there’s astronaut and aerospace engineer, but there are careers in other areas too like space medicine and space law,” he says.

Skill crossover

Brenan wasn’t always so future focused. In fact, half his university studies involved looking to the past. A “tremendous amount of indecision” at the end of high school led him to study two very different degrees – ancient history and science – at Macquarie University.

“A real highlight from my studies was going to Egypt and helping run archaeological excavations, often for two to three months at a time. I’d be learning about someone who lived in 1100 BC, then I’d come back to my studies in astrophysics and jump back into that other side of the brain,” he says.

It was this multidisciplinary approach that landed him at the Australian Space Discovery Centre. “Surprisingly, it was the unique combination of archaeology and astronomy that helped me get my current role,” Brenan says.

Pursuing a passion

Brenan now leads a team of 25 people at the hands-on, interactive centre where visitors learn about people working in space and the industries surrounding it.

Following a passion is his top advice. “It will often lead to a niche or specialisation in a field, putting you ahead of others,” he says.

Brenan’s study and career pathway

  • Bachelor of Ancient History (Honours) / Bachelor of Science (astronomy and astrophysics), Macquarie University
  • Retail Assistant, Australian Geographic
  • Astronomy Educator, Sydney Observatory
  • Master of Research (egyptology), Macquarie University
  • Visitor Services, Sydney Observatory
  • Manager, Australian Space Discovery Centre

This article was brought to you in partnership with Macquarie University and was originally published in Careers with STEM: Science.

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