Jacqueline Roederer is constantly looking to improve herself. The volunteer work she does in her spare time for the German federal agency for technical and disaster relief (THW) allows her to do just that. Setting up Covid vaccination and test centres, rescuing people out of car wrecks and collapsed buildings, cleaning up after environmental disasters, driving big THW trucks – “all this has helped me to learn a lot of handcraft skills, but also to hold my own in ‘classical’ male domains”, Jacqueline says.

Being used to ‘working in a man’s world’, as Jacqueline calls it, also helped her to excel when she did her A-levels at the Ferdinand von Steinbeis technical grammar school in Reutlingen, Germany, and started her apprenticeship at Airbus Defence and Space in Ottobrunn in 2018 manufacturing solar cells for satellites. Since January of this year, Jacqueline is the proud owner of a brand new Airbus contract.

Women International Science Day

“I'm a space mechanic and that's a very wonderful and special feeling”, she says. “There is this tingling sensation every day, knowing that you are building something unique and adding your fingerprint.” Most people may never see and touch the solar arrays Jacqueline and her colleagues are building for telecommunication and navigation satellites, but they are certainly relying on them every day – watching TV, finding locations with their smartphones, or benefitting from the scientific research we support. “Who wouldn’t be proud of that?” Jacqueline asks.

Her advice for women looking for a career in engineering? “Just do it, it doesn't matter where you come from. It is important that you are curious and want to know how things work. Once you understand how the world of technology and physics works, you can't get enough of it. At the end of the day, it's nice to look at what you've created with your hands.” For Jacqueline, one day, that could be a robotic space ship she built to mine raw materials in space. “There is no limit to my ideas, just like there is no limit in space,” she says. But first she wants to get her technician’s degree – and, most importantly, “stay on fire and keep on burning for what I love to do.”

On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, meet another of our colleagues:

Asunción Lopez Lorenzo, the first woman to join the space programme managers group in Madrid.