The brilliant hi-tech education for aerospace career
We interviewed Jeanie van der Merwe from the Republic of South Africa who successfully graduated from Moscow Aviation Institute with Bachelor’s degree and joined the Incomar Aerospace and Defence Systems corporation being involved in AHRLAC project — the development of a light reconnaissance and counter-insurgency aircraft.
Jeanie dreamed of space since as early as the 4th grade of primary school. She read a lot about intergalactic travels and began to study in depth mathematics and physics. And although there are only 13 hours of flight between Moscow and Johannesburg (eight and five with a transfer in Dubai) the path to Moscow Aviation Institute turned out to be long.
«By the end of the school, my parents and I began to study different variants, where I could get a good education that would help me fulfill my dream of space flight. We investigated the programs of universities in the United States, France, and even Russia, but all the options seemed to me either too expensive or too distant,» Jeanie explained.
She left school and entered the University of Pretoria where she studied for 2 years focusing on mechanical engineering. But she was not satisfied with the training program, it seemed too boring to her.
In 2013 Roskosmos Russian space agency was the only corporation which implemented launches of spacecraft. This fact motivated her to contact the Russian Embassy and begin her way to Russia.
She had a choice between Moscow Aviation Institute and Moscow State Aviation Technological University but finally chose MAI.
Two years of studies at the University of Pretoria had been recognized as one academic year in Russian. First of all, Jeanie completed one-year pre-university program studying Russian, mathematics and physics. This program helped her to go straight to the second year in the fall of 2014.
Jeanie highly appreciated the help she received from the faculty members; the classes at MAI were difficult to her.
«The study of Russian turned out to be very useful. This is one of the main „space languages“, many American astronauts fluently speak it,» Jeanie said.
At MAI Jeanie focused on studying Spacecraft Design, practical works in SolidWorks and SolidEdge 3D CAD Software. Her favorite subjects were Onboard Spacecraft Systems, space mechanics, and ballistics as well as Modeling of Spacecraft Functioning.
As part of a group of international students, she passed internship in NIK Research and Engineering Company. She participated in design works on an autogyro project solving the weight minimizing task. Jeanie met several cosmonauts: Elena Serova (Russian) and some of her Americans colleagues.
Jeanie has travelled Russian many times — she visited Dubna nuclear research facility, made a trip to Kaluga, where Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a rocket scientist and pioneer of the astronautic theory was born.
After graduation, she returned to South Africa and shortly was hired by Incomar Aerospace and Defence Systems for working on AHRLAC project — the development of a light reconnaissance and counter-insurgency aircraft.