Usually it is people who are looking for a job, but there are situations when it is the job that is looking for the right person. Such was the adventure of Dr. Tomasz Rożek at the European Space Agency. The Polish expert was invited – to his surprise – by the head of the European Space Agency himself to work as a consultant in the newly created HLAG group. He will now help guide the development of space technologies, which he believes is like a cross-country race without a map and a finish line.
Tomas Roczek, in an interview with WP Technologie, revealed what he would do at HLAG and indicated the direction in which Europe should develop space technologies. The science promoter also talks about the Polish space sector and explains why education is so important to him.
Konrad Siwick: How did the European Space Agency recruit you for such an honorable position?
Dr. Thomas Roshik: Recruitment was not open so I did not submit any application or CV. They only spoke to me themselves. First, someone wrote to me on LinkedIn He asks if you are interested. To be honest, I didn’t quite believe this was true. I thought there was a mistake. However, after a moment I received a letter from the head of the European Space Agency Invitation to this group. Signed with an electronic signature – I’ve verified that it really is.
I know they tried to put together a small group of people with different aerospace competencies, but not necessarily engineering. The European Space Agency did not want anyone in this group of 12 people directly or indirectly associated with the space industry. People who know motors, missiles, sensors, and building such devices probably have a lot to offer. They wanted to create a group of people who deal with space from other parties. In my case, it is about education and scientific communication.
What will HLAG do at future meetings?
There will be at least a few such meetings. The ESA head will run them because he cares about that. In any case, his commitment to creating such a group came from the heads of the individual space agencies that are part of the European Space Agency. In February of this year, such a meeting was held and the Board of Directors committed ESA management to creating such a group of technology-related advisors.
From the conversations I’ve had so far, it seems that not all of us will come to terms with our intrigues. Our job is to produce a single report, not a series of different documents on education, communication, geopolitics, etc. Our different competencies and functions will have to be expressed in some way in order for this single report to be generated. Our role will be to determine how to present, how to talk about which trends to identify from an education point of view and how to use them to inspire young people.
Today we can practice science at the highest possible level. However, we must also ensure that the next generation of scientists will continue their research. If we do not pay attention to this matter today, even the greatest efforts of today’s scientists will be wasted, because science does not develop in a single generation. The development of science is an ongoing process and it must have successors.
In what direction should Europe develop space technologies?
It’s not a one-stop shop, and it’s hardly a sprint race. This is a cross-country race where it is not entirely clear where to finish. This is a race we’re in and we don’t have a map. It is very complicated.
It would be easier if technological development seemed more like a race. At least you’ll know it takes a lot of energy to run straight, because that’s where the finish line is. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Sometimes we have to be ready to go back, sometimes we veer.
On the other hand, it would be wrong to draw conclusions from this wandering or going backwards, unfortunately this happens quite often. On the occasion of a pandemic, the conclusion is often drawn that all scientists do is art for art’s sake. One scientist will say this and the other will say … It was assumed that if everyone were vaccinated, the virus would disappear, although frankly no scientist said that.
I think that such a message was made rather by politicians.
We remember this because our school did not teach us how to navigate and work in the information forest. As a result, we cannot distinguish between information that is worth remembering and what is better to forget. We take everything that happens and remember the most emotional. In the meantime, scientists are learning to cut out emotions as much as possible, because they sometimes interfere with a subjective view of reality. That’s why we remember for longer what politicians say, not what scientists say – because some people base their message on emotions, others on a table, graph, or equation.
By understanding these processes, I try to show what errors are made in scientific communication and how they are subsequently translated, for example into the effectiveness of the message. These are very important things, but unnecessary for some scientists. Some scholars believe that science should not be generalized at all, because it means simplification – although it is not entirely correct. If we don’t do this homework, then we’ll have the impact of a pandemic later, but it works basically everywhere, including every other science topic.
What could your participation in HLAG mean for the Polish aerospace sector?
The Polish Space Agency is a very young enterprise, and the space industry in Poland has not had a chance to develop for many years. In Russia and the United States, the space industry – often associated with the military – developed very rapidly during the Cold War. In Poland, he could not develop for obvious reasons. However, as soon as it begins to develop, we are already starting to hoof.
Polish hardware, Polish components and Polish programmers are really at the highest level. Many Poles work for organizations such as the European Space Agency. Since I announced that I will be part of a group of advisors, I have received countless emails or messages from friends working at various ESA institutes.
Experts are well aware that Poland is a country in which the aerospace industry is rapidly developing. We may not be aware of this because we do not follow these topics on a daily basis. On the other hand, a lot of companies and organizations deal with the aerospace industry in Poland and do so at the highest global level. We don’t hear about them often, as they are often not hot topics, which is unfortunate.
I am trying to display it on my vlog or portal Sciences. Love her. These topics are interesting, but often not dealt with by the media. As a result, one can get the impression that the last person in Poland to do anything with the universe was Copernicus.
I say it out loud and often, but perhaps now there will be an opportunity to speak louder, because this possibility will not be lost only when there are employees and young people who want to study and can be employed first, and then actually give them the reins.
Konrad Siwick, journalist at Wirtualna Polska
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