Growth of women in science excites Cork physicist

Growth of women in science excites Cork physicist
Pictured with a model of the satellite at the launch are Joe Thompson, PhD student, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering with Maeve Doyle, PhD student, UCD School of Physics Research and Development.Picture Colm Mahady/Fennells 

A CORK woman, who is part of the team building Ireland’s first satellite, says she’s excited about the growing numbers of women becoming involved in the sciences.

Speaking on International Women’s Day, Maeve Doyle is currently a PhD Astrophysics student in University College of Dublin and is part of the EIRSAT-1 team, a project that is set to launch Ireland’s first satellite into space.

The teachers of St Mary’s Secondary School in her hometown of Charleville inspired her to take up a career in physics.

“The teachers at St Mary’s were amazing and always enthusiastic.

“Their enthusiasm is really what initially inspired my interest in the sciences, in particular, physics.”

As part of her PhD studies, Maeve’s main project is helping to build the EIRSAT-1 satellite, as the lead on-board software developer, helping to create the software that’ll determine how the satellite behaves while in space.

“EIRSAT-1, the Educational Irish Research Satellite, is set to be Ireland’s very first satellite,” she said.

“A team of UCD students, with the guidance of staff at UCD and industry leaders, are leading this project to design, build, test, launch and operate EIRSAT-1 as part of a European Space Agency programme, known as Fly Your Satellite!”

“The satellite is relatively small, 10x10x20cm (roughly the size of a shoe box) compared to what people might expect, but is the new way to access space with a cheaper, less risky and faster route. This size of satellite is called a ‘CubeSat’.”

Maeve is proud about the fact that the EIRSAT-1 team has such a strong female representation in the historic project.

She said, “The EIRSAT-1 team has a large female representation, which is amazing to have and something I am very proud to boast about when I go to visit schools.”

Speaking about the growing numbers of young women getting involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), Ms Doyle thinks about how that number can continue to rise.

“Encouraging STEM subjects is really important to everyone on the team. Sharing our project, our individual career paths and experiences with people still deciding what they want to do after school will hopefully show people the huge number of opportunities that a career in STEM can offer, as it has offered all of us.

“As part of our outreach programme, members of the EIRSAT-1 team regularly visit both primary and secondary schools and give talks.

“The number of women in STEM subjects is increasing but this is only happening due to the efforts of those encouraging women to pursue careers in engineering and science in recent times, so to keep this growth going the outreach and encouragement must continue and luckily EIRSAT-1 provides an amazing platform to do this.”

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