Within the ESA Academy’s Training and Learning Centre, located in ESA Redu Centre in Belgium, the educational Concurrent Design Facility (from now on I’ll call it CDF) offers university students the opportunity to learn how to apply the Concurrent Engineering Approach to space missions…but what is this? This morning I made myself the same question, so I’ll try to give some clues about it by telling my experience today.

How do you imagine a preliminary design of a whole space mission? Huge right? I wouldn’t know where to start, for instance, what subsystem should be more important than others to impose its constraints on them? Which should be the results of this study? How can we organize all the people in order to make the work more efficient? No idea, honestly.
CDF facilities at ESTEC
Actually, concurrent engineering tries to obtain the requirements of a mission by developing all the subsystems in parallel, which means at the same time! Inputs, outputs, requirements, functions…an incredible amount of data managed through a specific software…whatever, the important point: we all work together in order to design our system and to help others to design theirs.
CDF facility - Credit: ESA Academy
Personally, I want to tell you something: I’m not the programming guy (sorry for those who are). With this what I mean is not that I don’t know how to code, which I do, but that I am not the working-alone-with-its-computer guy. Actually, I was interested in this workshop due to the fact that I thought it was going to show an innovative way to do engineering, at least for me, where working hand in hand with a quite big amount of people were not only necessary, but feasible and efficient (over all, this last one). And, for once, I was right! I had real fun today! Apart from the amazing people I met, and from the ones in charge of the workshop (which, by the way, are great), I’d like to say that the method is amazing!
People in constant communication, creating from scratch something totally new by using their skills and by sharing them, it really encourages me. We’ll see tomorrow how it goes, but it seems better than expected, definitely a great opportunity, no doubt about that.


After a first promising day, personally I felt confident about doing it pretty well the second day, fresh minds, clear concepts, let’s get to work! No matter whether it’s 8am or my research project is chasing me (as a master student at Supaero I work on a one year research project which I have to submit in two weeks), today I felt ready for an intense day of concurrent engineering. Instead of telling you the boring part, I’m going straight to the conclusion: my head is a mess! No clear ideas any more, doubts everywhere and the feeling that I missed something during the process. Nevertheless, if I think it through, I realised that we actually have gone forward in this session, despite the problems we had with the software and the complexity of the task. In fact, I think I’ve learned a quite important thing: in this early phase nothing is fixed, there’re only assumptions, but the important thing is to identify the correct questions. There’s still a great amount of work ahead of us! Its 0:37 am, I guess it’s time to go to sleep (after spending some time chilling with the people, it is a great way to close the day).

Day 2 at CDF - Credit: ESA Academy


7.00 – Alarm rings
7.30 – Breakfast
8.00 – Bus to ESA Redu centre
8.10 – Arrival to ESA Redu centre
8.30 – Work time!
10.30 – Coffee break
11.00 – Work time!
12.45 – Lunch
14.00 – Work time!
16.00 – Coffee break
16.30 – Work time!
18.00 – Stop the clocks, work day is over
18.30 – Come back to the hotel
19.00 – Dinner
21.00 – Chill time

Presentation EPS - Credit: ESA Academy
This is a brief summary of an average day at the CEW. Pretty intense right? Yes indeed, and that’s why today at 00.32am I’m so exhausted I just want to go to sleep. Hence, see you tomorrow guys! No energy to write too much today… to sum up, there are still a quite amount of things to do at subsystem design level, but we are moving forward.
Presentation TCS - Credit: ESA Academy

Day 4. THE END

Well, after two iterations, quite a lot of coffees and some hours working on it, today we finally manage to arrive to a conclusion! Everyone has been working hard and it was time for presentations at the Training and Learning Centre. Besides, today we visited PROBA Control Room. Back at the hotel, at this place in the middle of the woods called Poix-Saint-Hubert, we enjoyed our last dinner together and had some fun while knowing that, tomorrow morning, each one of us should come back home. I would like to resume this experience in one sentence, with regard to what I’ve enjoyed the most while taking part in this CEW:

‘Engineering is not only about knowledge, but also about team effort! ‘

After all, the best thing I’m bringing back home is the fact if of having met such an amazing group of people.

Thanks ESA for this opportunity, the trainers, Robin and Johan, the people responsible of the workshop, Natacha and Veronica, and, of course, all my colleagues of the different subsystems. I hope I’ll see you soon!   A bientôt Redu!

PD: you can check the ESA Education webpage here: . There are plenty of opportunities for you!

CEW March 2017 - Concurrent Design Team - Credit: ESA Academy


  • The ESA/ESTEC Concurrent Design Facility, M. Bandecchi, B. Melton, B. Gardini and F. Ongaro, Proceedings of EuSEC 2000, 2000