Sonia Ruth Ricon Urbina had the fantastic opportunity to be the Project Manager for the satellite mission FACSAT-2, which was launched in April 2023, and is currently the Head of the Aerospace Technology Research Centre of the Colombian Aerospace Force (COLAF), and the lead of the COLAF Space Programme.
Sonia was an MPhil student at Cranfield University, who found success after what she describes as an initial ‘rocky ride’ through her studies (for personal and professional reasons). Her career has developed apace since.
Back in 2016, Sonia was intrigued to visit the UK and looked into options of studying here. Knowing that Cranfield is well recognised for its courses in aerospace; she liked the duration of the MSc course compared to other countries and the opportunity to research a subject linked with her job back in Colombia.
Sonia was looking for a Master’s in composites used in the aerospace industry, and she was also interested in testing materials and studying a practical case. A colleague, who is a Cranfield alumnus talked her through the strengths and capabilities of each programme and, having had previous experience in the military industry, she discovered that Cranfield would allow her to research her proposal of investigation.
Sonia’s Cranfield experience was full of challenges and learning lessons. Professionally, it allowed her to deepen her knowledge of composites and materials; find out more about the aerospace industry and the strategic approach used; and build stronger links with the industry. She learned how to develop her research and understand the methodology, which meant she could perform tests and make mistakes before going into the ‘real world’. She also had the opportunity to learn about different cultures and meet new people and make friends from all over the world.
Her advice to anyone considering coming to study at Cranfield is to review the range of programmes fully before picking a course that helps you not only learn, but face challenges and move out of your comfort zone.
Sonia’s future aspirations are to continue working in the space industry as a manager of the Colombian Space Programme. She wants to learn more about management and applying it to technology and innovation.
Sonia is a Lieutenant Colonel, and when she was in Cranfield, people asked her why she chose Cranfield rather than Shrivenham, to which she responded:
“I wanted to learn more about another approach to the aerospace and the composite industry. So, I decided to study at the Cranfield campus. Cranfield is quiet and lovely, and I spent many hours studying and reading on campus. The environment was like a job, with relaxed moments during the day and planned activities. I loved coffee time with my friends, and I was happy with my experience and selection.”
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