“Maybe you will have ideas no one else has had before”
Masters student Christa Stipp’s childhood interest in space and the stars led to her undertaking work experience at EUMETSAT.
From that experience grew an interest in studying meteorology and now her focus is trained a little closer to home – on clouds, rainfall and the atmosphere.
Christa was a 17-year-old student at Stefan-George school at Bingen, near the German city of Mainz, when she undertook work experience in EUMETSAT’s Meteosat satellites’ control room in our headquarters in Darmstadt in 2007.
“Like many, many students, I was impressed by stars, planets and space,” Christa said, explaining her interest in work experience at EUMETSAT.
“When it was the time at my school to do an internship, my uncle told me about EUMETSAT. At first, it seemed unreachable for me, but my uncle really encouraged me and told me to try and to apply. Fortunately, he did that.
“I remember the trip we made to the ground station at Usingen. There are big antennas there of the type you only see on television or in the movies.
“And I remember the Meteosat mission control centre – all the monitors with mysterious programmes. It was really fascinating!”
The Meteosat satellites are geostationary satellites which produce images of the Earth every 15 minutes. Christa has one of the images from our archives, which shows the Earth on the day she was born (shown above).
Like many people who work at EUMETSAT, and other students who have undertaken work experience here, Christa found being in a work environment with people of various different nationalities and professional backgrounds another highlight.
“What interested me as well was the international work environment – that’s something you don’t often experience.”
Christa said she was always interested in meteorology but her time at EUMETSAT led to her decision to study the subject at Mainz University, where she is now doing her Masters.
“My father used to read science magazines, so I often took a look at them and always stopped at the articles about the weather,” she said.
“But it was at EUMETSAT that I first learnt that you could study in the field of meteorology.
“Since that time, it was clear to me that I wanted to study meteorology. EUMETSAT was like a trigger for me.
“Every semester, I enjoy learning more about the processes taking place on our planet Earth, learning about what’s happening to our atmosphere
“The challenge is that not everything is as simple as it seems. For example clouds. They are a daily phenomenon, but it’s so difficult to describe them with physical equations.”
For her Masters project, Christa is researching the predictability of heavy rain events in Europe.
“There is a pattern in the wind field of the atmosphere that causes heavy rain – I want to improve forecasting by knowing more about these patterns,” she said.
The work experience programme started in 2003 as an initiative of the Head of the Flight Operations Division, Mike Williams, supported by the Meteosat controller team.
Since then, about 300 young adults have taken part, Programme Coordinator Phil Harvey said.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into ensuring the young people who take part in the programme enjoy their time here and go away having learnt more about space, satellites and meteorology, as well as working life,” Phil said.
“It’s really rewarding for me as the Programme Coordinator to hear someone like Christa saying her work experience at EUMETSAT influenced her decision to study meteorology.”
Christa says she would encourage other young people to study science because it brings something different every day.
“Science goes along with research and you never know what the research is going to bring to light,” she said.
“Maybe you will have the chance, by studying science, to have ideas that no one else has had before.”
After completing her Masters, Christa will decide either to undertake a PhD or work in the field of weather forecasting and says she would love to come back to EUMETSAT after she’s gained some work experience.