Julie, ALTEN Services Center Manager for Airbus Defence & Space.
A little over a year ago, Julie was appointed as AIT ALTEN Project Manager for Airbus Defence & Space (D&S). AIT, the satellite Assembly, Integration and Test phases: all stages which make it possible to build them and take them to the point of launching before they are propelled into space.
Julie leads some 40 consultants from more than 10 different fields of work, in a Service Center which serves as the base for high-level project development. Day-to-day, their mission is supporting Airbus D&S in its production of telecommunications and Earth observation satellites. Throughout its assembly, the satellite undergoes soundness and environmental testing.
Julie’s work is now 100% dedicated to her role as manager:
“If I had to describe my job, I would say that I oil the cogs.
I organize, plan, participate in finding global solutions…”
“Building a relationship based on trust with our customers is my main objective. This role complements that of my team in the field, who is responsible for preparing and monitoring activities in the clean room, where the satellites are produced, in which the environment is completely controlled.”
Among the most interesting projects on which she has had the opportunity to work, Julie mentions a program involving 600 telecommunications satellites, intended to provide global internet coverage, including areas not currently served, called “white areas”.
Her team participated in developing and assessing pilot satellites, as well as in the creation of the assembly line in Toulouse. ALTEN consultants traveled to Florida in the United States, to participate in the installation of two assembly lines. Another interesting family of satellites, Earth observation satellites, also called scientific satellites: “Currently, we are supporting a meteorological satellite project as well as a mission involving a probe to be used to explore Jupiter’s icy moons.”
An unexpected match
“I started by doing a DUT GE2I (Electrical Engineering and Industrial Computing Degree) in Montpellier (French city). I then studied at Institut Universitaire Professionnalisé and graduated with a Master’s in Microwave Systems. During my studies, I had the opportunity to work on a subject involving a CubeSat, a format of nano-satellites. But that was my only experience in the field of Space studies, therefore not very representative of all that this sector could offer me. Microwave Systems can concern many fields of application, I did not have a well-defined career path in mind. However, I knew that I liked it.”
After an internship at an SME specializing in video surveillance, Julie responded to a post for consulting services for a company in the Space Industry and it was at this point that she embarked on a new path, one from which she has never departed.
It was in technology that she took her first steps, specializing in AIT, in the heart of clean rooms.
In 2016, Julie came across with ALTEN, and continued her conquest of the space industry by taking on the role of Radiofrequency Engineer in AIT for Airbus Defence & Space. After 6 months, she was appointed as Head of a team of more than 10 radio frequency consultants. Julie thus split her time between technical activities and managing her team.
In 2018, she contributed her technical expertise to a flagship telecommunications satellite program: “This presented a major challenge, because I managed 13 people at two different sites who were themselves working in 4 different professions,” explains Julie.
“Working in the Space Industry? It never crossed my mind!
And yet, I have now been in this field for more than 12 years”
Today, through her role as Manager and her experience in the Space Industry, Julie takes stock of the richness of her daily life, which she could not have even imagined just a few years ago:
“The Services Center includes around ten fields of work. A consultant can work in the same field on different satellites, and several fields of work can be put to use on a single satellite: the combinations are endless.
In addition, a career in the Space Industry gives you the opportunity to work on a wide variety of products (observation and telecommunications satellites, satellite equipment, etc.) and at different stages of the life cycle: upstream on equipment that will be fitted to the satellite, all the way until they’re launched into space down to analyzing the results of the first tests in orbit. The members of the team draw from all the various fields involved in building the satellite: it’s a great opportunity.”
In addition to the major technical aspect of the work, a career in space engineering takes on an extraordinary component, as Julie confirms:
“I am from the Cévennes, a corner of France where space activity is non-existent and I am the first person in my family to work in this industry.
One day, someone shared a nice thought with me: my grandfather, a miner, saw life from below the earth and along the way brought my gaze up to the stars.”
This feeling of working in an exceptional field is shared by her colleagues: “When new members join the team, they come to the clean room and see the satellites that are actually going into space, it’s always the same feeling of fascination.”
Julie describes the job as very demanding but above all exciting and a source of sharing: “It is a collective adventure. Our strength lies in our ALTEN team; the team is involved and enthusiastic. Driven by this great collective energy, we are all on the same course. The satellite that we are working on then becomes our main focus and above all our common goal.” A passion that Julie now wants to share, both within ALTEN to promote the Space Industry, at technical conferences for example, but also externally, at trade fairs, with young people in their career counseling and on the hunt for excitement.
Discover all the portraits of ALTEN’s women consultants
in the Portfolio “Tales of Women Engineers” n°4.