UCL Careers


Alumni Profile: Mona El Ghzal

Read about UCL alum Mona's inspiring story about studying a Masters in Space Technology and working as a woman in STEM.

UCL alumni Mona El Ghzal.

4 April 2023

Mona's Introduction: I completed a BEng in Mechanical Engineering, from 2017-2020, at the University of Surrey and came on to do a MSc in Space Technology at UCL. I graduated in 2021, making this a degree completed throughout the pandemic! I am employed as a Junior Mechanical Engineer at MDA UK who specialise in Geo intelligence, Robotics and Space operations and, Satellite Systems. 

Mona's time at UCL:  

  1. What did you study here at UCL?  

MSc Space Science & Engineering: Space Technology. 

1a. What did you do outside of your studies (e.g., student societies, volunteering, part-time job, etc)?  

I have been breakdancing since a teenager and during my studies, I ensured to continue that passion. I supported and ran open dance sessions in Wembley, which allow people around London to practise in a safe area. I also volunteered with UKSEDs (UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space); this is a programme that supports students in learning and finding careers in the Space industry.  

  1. Did you make use of the services/events UCL Careers offer during your time here? What service/event did you find the most valuable?  

I spoke with a careers mentor who guided me through the job application process and provided me with great tips to improve my CV.  

Mona's Career Journey So Far:

  1. What does your career path look like? What motivated you to pursue this line of work? How did you get from UCL to where you are today?  

I was really inspired by my older brother who grasped an interest in Astronomy and that sparked my curiosity to apprehend the space environment. During my secondary school years, I really enjoyed studying Physics, but I wanted to develop my practical skills. That led me to study a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with an aim to complete a master’s degree in a Space related field. I then found the Space Technology course offered at UCL! 

3a. Have you been able to apply any of the skills and knowledge you gained from your degree to your role? If not, how did you go about developing these skills? 

I have. Moving from studying at university to working in industry is no easy task. However, the MSc course at UCL provided modules which allowed me to grasp an understanding of the requirements to design, verify and build hardware that will go to space. 

3b. What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your career so far?  

My job requires me to be extremely detailed orientated. This is a skill I have always struggled with growing up. However, this role has developed my focus and allowed me to certify my work and ensure the functionality of other systems in the spacecraft. 

  1. What does a normal working day look like for you? 

I am regularly on my computer and will use SolidWorks to design mechanical parts and develop drawings. I also verify my colleagues work and engage in meetings with engineers from various disciplines. On some occasions, I will design tools to support testing and designing in the lab, which will be 3D printed.  

  1. What is the most enjoyable part of your work? Equally, what is the most challenging part of your work? 

I enjoy overcoming complex engineering problems with my colleagues. A lot of my work involves cooperating with engineers of various disciplines and finding a robust solution. The most challenging part of my work is the verification process which can be difficult to meet under strict time conditions.   

  1. What are currently the most topical issues that you see happening in your field of work? 

Space sustainability is a prominent one and will only gain more attention in the years to come.  

  1. What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them? 

This is a great question, and I am very glad it has been asked. I believe it is not the big picture but rather the small details in your everyday work that are the issues. This can be from patronising comments to being underestimated in your abilities. I think we, as a society, need to have more self-awareness in the way we act, speak and engage which can come from underlying judgements that have been developed from a young age. However, I am very lucky that my company have many women in strong, leadership positions that have inspired and supported me. 

  1. What advice would you give to students and recent graduates who are looking to move into a career in your field? 

Do your research and don’t give up! Getting into the space industry can be quite difficult but it is not impossible. You must have perseverance! Apply to jobs that inspire you and where you wish to develop your skills in your career. And do not forget that there are many options out there, you must find them! 

Find out what your career path could be by booking a one to one appointment with a careers consultant today. Or take some time out to read this UCL Careers discovery feed article about refining your CV and increase your chances of getting your career job.