- Bernd M Weiss is a PhD student and investigates Spacecraft Reusability at Luleå University of Technology.
Most materials in spacecraft that are launched into space are lost and wasted when burned up in Earth atmosphere. Even the ones moved into a disposal orbit are unrecoverable with available technology. This includes not only rare-earth elements and otherwise valuable materials and operational components, but also a lot of chemicals and toxic elements with many unknowns regarding the long-term effects on the environment when disintegrated.
Bernd’s research aims to provide the foundation for spacecraft reusability as an alternative to spacecraft disposal.
For this, he investigates the application of circular economy principles (reduce, reuse, recycle) in other industries and attempts to identify options for their implementation in space. Bernd’s research will contribute to long-term space sustainability, where Earth atmosphere is less impacted, resource use is reduced, and space junk or waste creation decreased.
Bernd’s project is in the intersection of product innovation and space systems. The Produktion2030 Graduate School enables him to learn about practices in other industries and to connect with researchers looking into similar questions but other industries.
So far, Bernd has finished the courses Production Innovation, Sustainable Development, Communication and Get your Paper Published. He has also enrolled Transdisciplinary Approach to Circular Economy Research, Systems Engineering Certification and Engineering Design Research Methodology.
— The industry expertise of the course teachers is striking, and engaging with fellow PhD students from all over Sweden is a plus. The lecturers bring a wealth of knowledge, and it amazes me how dedicated they help us with our research, says Bernd and continues:
Getting exposed to other disciplines and the different topics related to production and industry, to me, feels like a huge benefit. It helps me to better understand the interconnectedness of production and adjoining disciplines and enables me to see the bigger picture and impact of my research.
Bernd thinks the courses align with a professional development as researcher and help to understand the needs of the industry.
This mix of industry and academia makes it relevant for full time PhD’s and industrial PhD alike. Basic knowledge needed for a future-oriented and sustainable production can be learned and an indepth knowledge creation and skills development is quasi-inevitable. I think the courses can support many of my fellow PhD students in their daily work, he says.
To PhD students thinking about joining the Produktion2030 Graduate School, Bernd has the following advice:
— It’s good to start with refreshing existing knowledge but start to build a strong foundation related to the research aim from an academic point of view at the same time. My professional experienced helped at some points, but the academic world has its nuances. For me, Get your paper published, should be considered as one of the first courses. To gain indepth knowledge on production and sustainability, I’d suggest Production Innovation and Sustainable Development as the go-to courses. These three courses provided the tools, methods, and a detailed insight into my research area. After that, the communications training, (“eye opener”), delivered lots of value and options to reflect on my research.
Bernd also has one separate suggestion:
— The Production 2030 courses are interesting and are all designed to support researchers. It’s inviting to sign up for courses to broaden our knowledge but that are out of scope for our research. Early on, it helped me to ask myself (and my supervisor), if a specific course is essential, or a bonus, for the outcome of my current research stage. This helped me to know where to focus on and to shift time resources. Saying ”no” is saying ”yes” to what is important.