Loughlin works as an Orbit Dynamics Analyst for SingTel Optus Pty
decided to study physics because I really enjoyed science fiction
stories. The science in them fascinated me and I wanted to know
more. Looking back, that was one of the best decisions I ever made
- Do something because you enjoy it! I am still enjoying it.
I studied physics
at the UNSW for my undergraduate degree and continued with atmospheric
physics for my PhD. This began to teach me a lot about the science
and also about how humans were impacting natural systems like the
atmosphere. I combined my PhD with a part time teaching position
with the School of Physics which in itself was a great learning
career continued when I left UNSW at the completion of my PhD in
1995 for a position at the University of Mainz in Germany. I extended
my knowledge to cloud formation and then aerosol chemistry. By the
end of two and a half years I found that I was unsatisfied and it
is only now, after being employed with Optus for the last six years,
that I know why. Diversity!
When I returned
from Germany I started working for Optus within the Satellite group
as an Orbit Dynamics Analyst, a position that I still enjoy immensely
as it is diverse. Optus has a fleet of geostationary telecommunications
satellites. Their orbits require continual small adjustments and
it is my job to analyse their orbits and maintain them so that the
satellites stay where required while using as little fuel as possible.
This job entails
usage of my classical mechanics background to manage the orbit properly.
It also uses rotational mechanics in the momentum stored in the
orbit as well as the control systems on board each spacecraft. The
electronics subjects that I did and taught are coming to the fore
as I learn about the power and control subsystems and solid state
means I know how the solar arrays work. I learnt programming during
the researching phases of my studies which is always invaluable.
The list goes on and there are still many areas of physics that
I studied which I do not use for my current work. That knowledge
helps as I know what is going on in other areas of the company and,
more importantly, gives my future flexibility.
There is no
way I could have prepared better for a career in the satellite industry
than by doing a physics degree and I think that it is one of the
best degrees a student can undertake. In a word it gives the student
diversity, something which is invaluable in today's world.