My name is Monique Hollick and I work as a Space Systems Engineer in the Small Satellite Experimentation Team at Defence Science and Technology Group (DST). I studied a Bachelor of Engineering (mechanical) and Bachelor of Science (physics) at the University of Western Australia and graduated in 2012. After spending two and a half years in the mining industry, I then studied a Masters in Satellite Systems Engineering at the University of New South Wales, graduating in mid-2017. I commenced my current role at DST in 2017.
The following is a typical Monday for me…
I usually wake up around 6:30am and take my dog for a walk around the local park with my husband. I then get ready for the day (which always includes breakfast while watching Fox Sport News!) and drive to work. I live in a small town about 60 km from Adelaide city, and the drive to Edinburgh is about 30 km, but there are no traffic lights and there is rarely any traffic on the way, so the drive is quite relaxing.
I generally arrive at work around 8:30am, although I do not have a firm start or finish time most days since my team has quite flexible work hours (as do most at DST). I usually start my day by making myself a coffee and checking my emails. Triaging and responding to emails usually takes around half an hour, and doing it first thing in the morning helps me to get on top of things for the rest of the day. I then might complete some small packages of work that I can get through in an hour or so, before our 10 am team meeting. These tasks can include things like administration, reading relevant research papers, reviewing documents, and so on.
Our team of seven people comes together every Monday to discuss the events of the previous week, plan for the upcoming week, and raise any issues. When we are operating a satellite, this meeting is typically focused on the outcome of operations – such as, what data has been collected, what activities have the satellite performed, what is the current satellite health and performance, what is the focus for the next week of operations. We also review an on-going team ‘to do’ list for longer-term tasks, which ranges from analysis to administrative tasks. This meeting usually goes for about an hour, and afterwards we all generally have a good feel for what we need to do over the upcoming week.
I usually have a bit more time now to delve into a more involved tasks. I have a mechanical engineering background, so my responsibilities often involve tasks such as analysing on-orbit satellite data, creating models or simulations to test or reproduce particular activities, and engineering analysis and design jobs for a space system under development. I often use software such as Matlab, Satellite Took Kit and CAD to assist me to do these tasks.
At lunch time, I either go for a run around the DST site, and then eat my lunch, or just take a short break in the office kitchen to eat lunch. We have showers in our building, so it’s easy to fit in some lunch time exercise.
If we’re operating a satellite, there are usually a couple of passes over our ground station in the afternoon, and we have an operations roster for the team. Operations involves preparing a set of commands to be sent to the satellite (which are converted to byte sequences) and scheduling our ground station to track and communicate with the satellite as it passes over.
After the operations window, I will usually conduct some analysis of the data if it is required, or I will continue with an engineering or research task. This is often the best time of the day to get work done as the office quietens down after operations have finished for the day.
I typically finish work around 4:30pm and on Monday evenings I head to football training. Footy training really helps to clear my head, and it provides me with work-life balance.
I arrive home at the end of the day and have dinner with my husband and my dog, and we usually watch AFL360 or the latest Netflix show that we’re into! I’m usually pretty tired at the end of a Monday, so I’ll usually be in bed before 11 pm, but always keen for the next day!