I HAVE always been fascinated by space.

When I was younger I used to write to NASA and the ESA asking them to send me pictures of the space shuttle and upcoming missions to plaster over my bedroom walls.

I constantly pestered my mother to send me to space camp in the United States, so was delighted when my physics teacher at school told me about Space School UK.

After attending, I knew science and engineering were my preferred routes into the space industry so I went on to do a degree in physics and then a Masters in space engineering.

Until I finished my degree I had never even thought about spacecraft operations, but that is the role I ended up in for most of my career.

I worked on various missions ranging from commanding unmanned communications satellites through to planning European operations on board the International Space Station.

In my current role I get to see spacecraft from the other side, being part of the team that actually designs and builds the hardware rather than flying it from a control room.

At Neptec UK we build sensors for spacecraft and one of our most exciting ventures involves designing and building a LIDAR laser range sensor which will be part of the landing system for a lunar mission called LunaResource-1.

The lander will go to the south pole of the Moon to prospect for water, and it is exciting to think that missions like this could eventually lead to a human habitat there.

One of the best things about my role is being able to get involved with so many aspects of the project: there is no typical day for me although my overall job is to make sure my project is running on time and within budget – not easy to do when you are building something that needs to survive a launch and the harsh environment of space.

My tasks can range from tracking down suitable test sites and finding suppliers for components, to presenting our progress to the European Space Agency.

I work with a fantastic team of engineers to overcome the challenges of building something that will meet our mission requirements and at the end of the day we get to see our work go into space.

The best thing I ever did for my career was to join my university space society.

Through this I learned that there were plenty of other space enthusiasts out there and plenty of opportunities to get involved in the industry, from rocketry competitions and space schools, to internships and space conferences.

My advice to anyone interested in becoming an engineer is to get involved.

Whether your passion is space, aviation, mining, or any other aspect of engineering, there are plenty of people and groups who are more than willing to help and support you.