Portia Bowman, a systems engineer now working at Thales Alenia Space, has received a national award for a website that helps others follow her into the sector.
Portia with Tim Peake at the UK Space Conference 2017
Alongside Joseph Dudley from London, the recent grad received a Point of Life award from the UK Prime Minister’s Office in recognition of their volunteer work to create SpaceCareers.uk. So far, the website that has helped more than 100,000 people learn about careers in the space industry.
The idea for the website came about in 2014 when Portia was completing her Master’s degree in Space Exploration Systems at the University of Leicester. Portia and Joseph decided to take all the space career and job opportunity resources they could find and make them available online in a single location.
“Having the idea was just the start” said Portia. “To bring my vision to life meant contacting all the space companies in the UK I could find, speaking to hundreds of people within the industry and encouraging as many students as possible to support the project. At one point, I oversaw the work of ten volunteers who, like me, were really passionate to make this happen, whilst managing their academic workload.”
Portia and Joseph launched SpaceCareers.uk on December 15 2015, the same day Tim Peake launched on his mission to the ISS. Since then more than 200 jobs and 100 news articles have been shared on the website, which now has over 15 volunteers involved.
The Point of Light Award recognises outstanding individual volunteers, and was bestowed to both Portia and Joseph on the 60th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the first ever artificial Earth satellite. Both young engineers currently volunteer for the ‘UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space’ UKSEDS, which supports students and enthusiasts across the country by running space projects, hosting conferences and workshops, and undertaking outreach.