Franz Newland tells of his career in the space industry
B.Eng Aerospace Systems, 1995; PhD Aerospace Systems, 2000
Franz Newland started work as a software architect at IBM Hursley's research laboratory and currently works as Manager of Mission Engineering at COM DEV Canada.
On his career since graduation Franz says: “I have been very fortunate to have had good positions, work for good companies and have great colleagues ever since graduation. My current job certainly has many high points, covering space mission activities from conception to operations, with much faster turnarounds than are typical in the industry, and really giving a breadth of experience that would be rare to find elsewhere.”
The turning point for Franz came when he decided to leave the UK, after completing his PhD, to get into the space industry and he is particularly proud of being part of the team that conceived, designed, developed and flew a nanosatellite mission in around eight months. His advice to others is: “Keep your enthusiasm boundless, your ideas free-flowing, your goals in life just out of reach, but recognise that the most valuable thing you will have leaving University is the tools to continue learning.”
Franz’s choice of study developed from his interest in aircraft, so a degree in aeronautics and astronautics seemed a natural progression. The opportunity to study for a PhD: “Grew out of my final year project, and the topic area was interesting, so I really fell into it.”
Franz believes that his education at Southampton prepared him for “working outside my comfort zone and knowing there could always be other ways to do things.” He would recommend Southampton as a place to study because of: “passionate professors, who care about their field, care about their students, combined with the excitement of the place itself with its world-class research and excellent facilities. And Southampton always felt like a friendly university.”
If he could start his time at University again, there are a couple of things that Franz would do differently. “For my PhD I would better research the possible impact of my planned work, to identify a topic with possible broader impact and application, and looked closer at the possible paths beyond the PhD before starting it. For my degree, I would not do much differently. No regrets with what I did on either front, though.”
For the future, Franz aims: “To copy the career plans of a much wiser person than me” and he hopes “my future career lets me make the world a better place.”
Franz still keeps in touch with other Southampton alumni, but hasn’t returned to campus for many years.