Steven Fisher, a flight dynamics engineer at Intelsat, has been working in the satellite industry for more than three years now. While he loves his career, he’ll be the first to tell you he hadn’t set out to work in the space industry.
“I went to school at North Carolina State and majored in aerospace engineering. I picked aerospace at the time in large part because I was pursuing my private pilot’s license. I have always had a strong interest in airplanes and aviation, but in my sophomore year I took a class on orbital mechanics and the basics of spaceflight and that’s what really turned me in the space industry direction,” says Fisher. “It was a big moment.”
Fisher, who has been working at Intelsat for just under two years, got his start at a company called GeoEye (now DigitalGlobe) as a mission controller. While the group of students pursuing orbital flight at NC State was small, the job pool proved even smaller after he graduated.
“So many space industry places are looking for people who already have experience that it becomes difficult to find the few that are looking for recent grads specifically,” says Fisher. “I think experience is such a crucial aspect of the space industry because there’s just so much to know and so much that you can only get through on the job experience that it can be hard to get a start in a specialized industry like space.”
Fisher is ecstatic that companies such as Intelsat have shifted their perspective on hiring solely experienced workers to fill open positions and allow the younger generation a chance to learn from and contribute to the industry.
“I’ve learned more than I ever thought. There’s so much that can be gained by spending time working day in and day out with people who have been at the company or in the industry for 20 years or more, which is why I’m really happy that Intelsat’s hiring position has become not just focused on veteran engineers but they have also made room for people who have little experience like myself. I think it tends to bring a newer atmosphere and it also brings newer ideas to the table. We’re allowing for newer people to learn what it really is about to be working in the space industry,” he says.
Moving into the future, Fisher is excited to see Intelsat’s High Throughput Satellite (HTS) platform EpicNG come to term. Although he admits that his position has little to do with the technology, he thinks it will be a game changer for the industry. Fisher is also interested to see how the traditional space industry will merge with the ideals and capital of Silicon Valley.
“There’s a lot of potential right now in the space industry and not just for GEO satellites but also with GEO working in conjunction with these huge LEO constellations we could see in the next 15 years,” says Fisher. “With the Internet of Things (IoT) and with devices getting smaller and smaller there is a lot of potential to see some really interesting change. I think we’re going to see a lot of really cool stuff happen and satellite will play some role, whether or not people will know, that is hard to say.” VS