Interview

Parth Upadhyay

Mechanical Analysis Engineer for Airbus Defence and Space


Who are you and what do you do?

I am Parth Upadhyay, I am incredibly passionate about space industry and space travel. I am currently working a Mechanical Analysis Engineer for Airbus Defence and Space. I studied Aeronautical Engineering (MEng) at Loughborough University.

What does your role involve?

As a Mechanical Analyst, my job is to support lead engineers to provide validation for the design of the spacecraft structure. Essentially, we want to make sure that a spacecraft is strong enough for the various stages/environments it goes through, for example, spacecraft build stage, transport (from one site to another site), launch environment, etc.

My job is to analyse spacecraft for each environment which can be done one of two ways. One is classical hand calculations, the second is using computer models (Finite Element Analysis). The results of the mechanical analysis drive design of the spacecraft structure, how heavy it is, what materials are used, etc.

In addition to that, we also work on making spacecraft structures as light as possible to make sure the maximum payload can be taken (e.g. science equipment, communication payload) whilst maintaining structural integrity.

My day to day job focuses on design and analysis of “communication satellites”, some of which may provide TV signal to homes across the world. In addition to mechanical analysis, I also develop software tools which help speed up the analysis process. So, my job also involves knowing some sort of coding language as automation is taking a more central role in mechanical analysis activities. I would strongly recommend learning at least one coding language as it can be extremely beneficial in future with drive towards automation.

How did you get your job? Was it easy?

I actually didn't know anything about Astrium (as it was called) when I was at college, it was actually while attending Space School in 2008 I first came to visit Astrium and I absolutely loved it! I went onto study Aeronautical Engineering and picked modules that I thought would get me into the space industry.

I applied for a lot of placements while I was at university, but I didn’t get one until the last minute. Placements in the space industry were not that well-advertised so I struggled but I managed to get a placement at Airbus Defence and Space. Even after doing a placement I wasn’t guaranteed a job; to join Airbus again I had to reapply and fight for my place again. Right now, places like this website give an amazing insight into all the different roles available and guidance to succeed which I think everyone should take advantage of, especially if you are looking for your first job.

What advice would you give to people looking for a job in your industry?

Doing an engineering or physics degree, the skills you learn are very transferable so that if you apply them properly you can change disciplines without much effort. I wanted to do something to do with engineering and in space industry so I found mechanical would be the best route to get me there. But it doesn’t have to be same for everyone, it could be electrical design, systems engineering, aerodynamics, etc...

I suggest focusing on the transferable skills and there is so much help available online, starting with this website in particular, which can guide you onto the right path. Find something that you are really interested in, and look for ways in which that can get into space industry.

When did you become interested in space/the space industry?

Short answer is: Attending Space School UK. This really took my vague interest in space/physics into an area what I wanted to have a career in.

What decisions or opportunities you took do you think significantly influenced the fact you got that job?

Attending Space School UK and getting a placement in industry.

Author

Emma Collier

Emma studies Physics with Astronomy at the University of Southampton.

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