I have 11 GCSEs, I then went to college rather than staying on to do A-levels where I completed my National Diploma (ND) then my Higher National Diploma (HND) – I knew I wanted to do a trade or skill early on. But I got into my academic work the older I got. I went to uni and completed by BEng in Electronics. I worked in industry for a little bit then joined Surrey Space Centre as a PhD student – where I got paid to learn (!). This was incredible – and I now have the opportunity to help others grow too.
Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey. This is me: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/people/chris-bridges
I live with my partner near Guildford. By day I teach electronics for space and running a team of researchers at the University of Surrey. By night, I like python coding, playing with amateur radio, practicing my terrible guitar skills, and attempting to learn Japanese.
I really enjoy movies! Star Wars and Star Trek definitely figure. I used to play the computer game, X-wing vs Tie Fighter, which came out in 1997. The latest Star Wars movies brought back a lot of nostalgia for me and the X-wing sequences were amazing.
I can’t leave here without talking about Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Discovery. TNG with Picard really opened my eyes to what future technologies could exist and how society could develop – something I’d never considered before.
And Star Trek: Discovery pushed this further by including people of colour and LGBTQ issues – moving from a ‘black and white’ world into a more realistic ‘spectrum of greys’ we live in the world today. I’m looking forward to that new season.
My pronouns are:
Spacecraft builder and operator in Guildford, Surrey. I lead a research group that builds new space radios and computers. I love working with my hands – building new instruments through to coding. I also love reading, movies and music!
I’ve been super inspired by NASA’s Marco mission. I had the opportunity to work with Professor Craig Underwood on the AAReST mission, which involved CalTech and NASA staff in California.
We got to talk all things deep space and CubeSats and to see them operate and successfully push what these small satellites can do – at Mars – was a real vindication for what success is possible when you take and accept risk. This mission had a lot of young engineers working on it with the support and expertise of senior NASA engineers, which was wonderful, too.
SSC is also working on Europe’s answer to this development. Our mission is called VMMO (Volatile Mineralogy Mapping Orbital), which involves a small spacecraft searching for water ice and other compounds on the Moon.
My Typical Day:
My typical day is getting to work for 9AM – checking in with my students and colleagues about the running of the space centre. I also check our ground station to ensure we are receiving our research satellite missions. Its the morning where I get my own research done – which may be testing some electronics or some code in new ways. In the afternoon, I usually meet with my students to help them with their projects. I go home between 5 or 6 pm.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I think you’d all have to tell me that! I would spend it on a better camera to do Youtube tutorials with for python coding. This is such an important skill for the space sector and I’d love to show everyone just exactly how diverse the problems are that I look at by only using software – from simulations, through to analysing real data – it is so important.
What is your favourite fact about space?
Satellites travel at over 15,000 mph!
What did you want to be after you left school?
An engineer (dad's and grandad's fault - they were engineers)
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No. But then I left at 16.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Perhaps a builder - working with my hands.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
The Smashing Pumpkins
What's your favourite food?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Knowing all languages, super eyesight, and flying. Please.
Tell us a joke.
What do you call a detective electrician? Sherlock Ohms.