Campus and Community

“Técnico has prepared me for the future”

These are the words of Marta Oliveira, Técnico alumna and one of the Portuguese women included in Forbes Under 30 Europe list.

Marta Oliveira knew at an early age that she wanted to do something related to space: “I dreamt of going to space – I collected books and films about space”, says the Técnico alumna. Her family supported and encouraged her, and at the age of 14 she had the opportunity to do the Astronaut Training Experience at Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral. This was when she realised that she wanted to do something related to Space. Nowadays, at the age of 29, she is fulfilling her dream. The Técnico alumna works in Europe’s Spaceport, in French Guiana, and her name was included in Forbes Under 30 Europe list.

The Técnico alumna isn’t sure wheter university is the best time of our lives, but she recalls what was like being a Técnico student: “Those were years of great intellectual discovery and freedom of choice”. “Técnico has prepared me for the future. I learnt about perseverance, autonomy and curiosity for new challenges”.

Marta’s classmates highlight her friendliness, intelligence, work capacity and discipline. The Técnico alumna is an art enthusiast, likes poetry and literature, and she is a fierce tennis player.

After completing her integrated master’s degree at Técnico, Marta Oliveira went to the International Space University (ISU). “I got a scholarship from ESA and FCT, which allowed me to do a ISU program in Ohio, and then I finished a second master’s degree in space studies, in Strasbourg”, she shares. While she was doing her master’s degree, she applied for several internships. “I ended up getting an internship at NASA Goddard”, she recalls. “I have heard that nowadays FCT promotes an exchange programme with NASA. I encourage students to apply and to have that unique experience”, she adds. The Técnico alumna applied for ESA trainee programme and was selected, and then she joined ESA strategic team.

Marta Oliveira works at Europe’s Spaceport physics laboratory and she is part of the team responsible for maintaining and operating the satellites launched by Ariane, Soyuz and Vega.

According to the Técnico alumna, the overview effect, which is reported by astronauts while viewing the Earth from outer space, “is an awareness of the fragility and reality of Earth in Space”. “This potential for awareness combined with the desire to go deeper into space makes it particularly fascinating” she adds.

Marta Oliveira confesses that being among the Forbes Under 30 Europe list “was a great surprise”. “It’s an excellent boost to keep going on my path and I think that it’s also an added responsibility for the coming years”, she stresses. The Técnico alumna also highlights: “Portugal has an extremely well qualified and reputable scientific community. Throughout my journey, I have always been able to count on the advice and support of other Portuguese people working in this area. Many of whom became lifelong friends”.

The Técnico alumna looks forward “to further contribute to space exploration. The creation of the Portuguese Space Agency is a great motivation”. Another dream is “seeing EnVision, Europe’s next mission to Venus, becoming a reality. I worked on it on my thesis and later on at ESA, so it’s something very special for me”.

Marta Oliveira gives young people an advice: “If you want to change you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone, be open to new opportunities, but without forgetting the goals you set”.