I went to school in Dunstable, UK, where my upper school was called Queensbury. I then studied Physics at the University of Leicester.
I have nine GCSEs, including Maths, Double Science and English, as well as 5 A-Levels in English Language, Physics, Maths, Chemistry and English Language. I have a first class Masters degree in Physics with Space Science & Technology
Since leaving university, I have always worked for Airbus (although they were called Astrium when I started!). I joined on the company's Graduate Scheme in 2008 and spent the first two years doing placements in Future Programmes, System Engineering, Assembly Integration & Test, Public Relations and Product Assurance (a bit like quality control for spacecraft). I then joined the ExoMars Rover project and started by looking after one of the prototype Rovers called Bruno, who we used to develop the technology the Rover needs to drive itself across Mars. I gradually moved into System Engineering, looking after requirements and verification, before also managing the team of System Engineers on the project too
Lead Systems Engineer on ExoMars Rover, although I am also doing System Engineering on the Sample Fetch Rover project
Favourite thing to do in my job: Getting to see the real ExoMars Rover being built and tested!
Hi, I'm Paul and I live in Hitchin, UK, with my wife Sarah and our cat Sam
Hi, I’m Paul and I live in Hitchin, UK, with my wife Sarah and our cat Sam. I have been interested in Space since a young age and I am lucky enough to do it as my job! I also really enjoy photography, wildlife photography, and hope to go to Brazil next year to photograph Jaguars in the wild. I like to read and my favourite author is Michael Crichton. I like to keep fit and healthy, and do a weekly class called Body Attack (which is just as intense as it sounds!). I am a Christian and serve on the sound engineering team at my local church.
My Work on the ExoMars Mission
I am the Lead Systems Engineer on ExoMars Rover and have been working on the project for 11 years
I am the Lead Systems Engineer on ExoMars Rover, which means I look after the Rover as a whole and make sure all the different parts come together to make a successful mission! In particular, I look after requirements, which define all the different things the Rover must be able to do, and verification, which is how we prove the Rover can do all those things and works properly!
I started on the project back in 2008, so I have been on the project for over 11 years now. It’s really exciting to see the Rover being built and tested after all that time! Most recently, I have been planning all the tests that we need to do on the flight Rover (the one that will actually go to Mars), to make sure we have built the Rover properly and it will be able to work when it arrives on the surface of Mars in 2021.
I also look after Bruno, who is one of the prototype Rovers, who we now take to events all round the country to tell people about the ExoMars mission. I really enjoy the outreach side of my job, talking to people about the Rover and what I do.
My Typical Day: I'm not sure I have a typical day, but most days start at 8am when I get to work. I will read any emails I've got and then start looking at what tests we have performed and if we can close any requirements as a result. I will often have meetings with my colleagues and the customer to discuss how our test campaign is going, solving any problems that might have happened.
Like most engineers in the space industry, there isn’t really a typical day as such, as our jobs are so varied. Some days I will be down in the Mars Yard doing testing or filming with Bruno (one of the prototype Rovers), other days I will be at my desk, and most recently I have been out in Toulouse supporting the Rover’s test campaign.
Most days start at 8am, when I get into work. I’ll check any new emails that have arrived since yesterday, and flag the ones I need to deal with. At the stage of the Rover project we are now at, I will spend most of the day reading test specifications and reports, in particular checking if any tests have been successfully completed and if I can close the requirements that are associated with them. I will also check if we have had any documents from our suppliers – we have about 30 different suppliers who build different parts of the Rover, and they will have their own requirements they will need to prove have been met. I will often have meetings with my colleagues and the customer (the European Space Agency) to discuss how the testing is going and what still needs to be done. This often involves solving problems that might have happened during the tests.
I normally go home around 5pm, as its really important to have a good work-life balance and not spend all my waking hours at work!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Hard-working, helpful, kind
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Work on the ExoMars Rover
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I've always been interested in space since we did a project on planets in Year 3. I found it so interesting and inspiring, I knew then I wanted to do something with space in my job
What was your favourite subject at school?
I enjoyed doing Physics (and actually studied it at university too), but also more creative subjects like English
What did you want to be after you left school?
I don't think I was really sure - I knew I wanted to work with something to do with space, but it wasn't until I got to university that I learnt about the space industry in the UK and decided I wanted to work on the many exciting missions being developed here
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I was always terrified of getting in trouble, so did everything to avoid it!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I think I'd still be doing engineering as I find it really interesting, but maybe in aviation or transport
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I really like listening to Imagine Dragons at the moment
What's your favourite food?
Definitely Italian food, carbonara or pizza are my favourites
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Going to Yosemite National Park in the US, such an amazing place on a scale so far beyond anything we can imagine
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To be happy, healthy and the Rover operating successfully on Mars!
Tell us a joke.
I saw a 1 star review for Mars on Trip Advisor. They said it had no atmosphere.