CAREERS IN ENGINEERING
MSSL employs electronic, mechanical and software engineers, whose task is to support the research of the science groups. In the electronic and mechanical engineering groups, there are three main categories of employee: engineers, draghtsmen and technicians.
The engineers are responsible for the design of hardware. The draughtsman's task is to turn the engineer's schematic ideas into the detailed plans used by the technicians to build the hardware in the mechanical workshop or electronics lab. Testing of the finished project is carried out by the engineers themselves, bringing the process full circle.
Draughtsmen and technicians usually have at least HND level qualifications (or have done apprenticeships), whilst the engineers are generally educated to degree or PhD level. The entire process is overseen by project managers, who arrive from a variety of backgrounds.
Software engineers at MSSL might work on either spacecraft on-board software, which controls scientific instruments and subsystems, or on data analysis software. On-board software programming overlaps with the work of the electronic engineers, whilst those engineers writing science analysis software may also be involved in scientific research. These engineers usually have a Master's degree or PhD.
Space Science is computer-intensive. MSSL contains many different types of computer systems, from various varieties of UNIX through to Mac and Windows machines, which requires the system managers to have a broad range of experience. Keeping the Lab's computer network, hardware and software going is the demanding task of the computing group. Some members of the group have come to this from a science background, whilst others are specifically trained in computing.