Farisha Jamal has been working in the South Australian space industry for under a year, but is part of a growing constellation of female engineers lighting a successful career path in the sector. She’s now empowering other women and young girls to reach for the stars.
The avionics engineer is forging a successful career in the South Australian space sector. Farisha was recently recruited by local space launch provider Southern Launch to help create flight systems and sensor packages that collect data from launch vehicles.
Already making her mark in the state’s space history, Farisha is actively contributing to an imminent space launch mission that is entirely South Australian. The rocket is being built by a local company, the payloads have been designed and manufactured in South Australia and the launch will take off from the Southern Launch Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex near Port Lincoln.
Farisha has played an integral role in the design and manufacture of the payloads and is over the moon to be involved in her first launch mission. “Seeing something go from nothing to something that’s going to be launched in South Australia is pretty amazing,” she said.
“I love being able to see a problem and fix it, and it’s very rewarding to also see the end product. It not just simulation or computer-based, it’s a physical piece of equipment that I’ve programmed and it is going to go into space.”
A career in the space industry wasn’t exactly something Farisha had in mind when finishing high school, but her interest in STEM and passion for problem solving led her to pursue a career pathway in the field.
“I was good at maths and physics in high school, but my goal was to be an accountant or lawyer,” she said. “It was very last minute when I decided to do a degree in space engineering and thought it was more aligned with what I’d like to do and what I was good at. I knew it was important to enjoy what I do.”
After completing an Honours in Engineering (Aeronautical – space) and a Bachelor of Science majoring in advanced physics and maths at the University of Sydney, Farisha worked at Boeing Aerostructures Australia in Melbourne for two years. She has since moved back to Adelaide to be a part of South Australia’s growing space industry.
“It was exciting moving back to South Australia not only because it’s where I’m from, but because of the emerging space industry”, she said. “I wanted to help build the space industry in Australia from the ground up, rather than work overseas in an industry that’s already established.”
South Australia is home to a growing space ecosystem, consisting of more than 100 space-related organisations, as well as a thriving research and development and entrepreneurial community. As the industry grows, new opportunities are being created for young talent here in South Australia.
“I love that I’m always learning something new, and no two days are the same. This industry is always moving forward and as long as you have curiosity and enthusiasm for space then nothing is impossible.”
As a young female who has carved out a successful career in a typically male-dominated industry, Farisha is now advocating for greater female representation in the space sector and is actively involved in STEM outreach programs, including Women in STEM and Code Like a Girl.
“I’ve found that making relationships and networking goes a long way – collaborative work really helps,” she said.
“Don’t let the intimidation get in the way of doing something that you really want to do. If you have a passion for it then you should pursue it regardless of the setbacks that may come.”
“Diversity is really important – it’s not just about gender, but different backgrounds, life experiences and outlooks bring different ways of thinking. A team needs that to be innovative and progressive.”
Careers in the space industry are so much more than astronauts and rocket scientists. Learn about career pathways and opportunities in South Australia to find your place in space.
Visit FindYourPlaceSA.com and discover the career opportunities awaiting you.