Loughlin works as an Orbit Dynamics Analyst for SingTel Optus
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
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 experience.
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