Spotlight 2017

Kevin McMullan - European Space Agency

11 Dec 2017
Kevin McMullan

Kevin McMullan works for the European Space Agency (ESA) where he led the team responsible for preparing the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite for its launch into orbit. Kevin joined the ESA in 1983 as Calibration Engineer for the Radar Altimeter (RA) Instrument on-board the European Remote Sensing Satellite (ERS-1). He subsequently went on to work on a number of significant satellite programmes with the ESA. Kevin talks to us about how his degree in Electrical Engineering led to a career in the area of space exploration!

Course/subjects studied in UCC
B.E. Degree in Electrical Engineering

Best memory of UCC
Social interaction with a large number of students from different faculties in a small college environment. Only 4,000 students when I graduated in 1973. Also student organised concerts in the Aula Max. and Saturday morning rugby matches at the Mardyke.

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
On graduation, my primary degree in Electrical Engineering led to me to joining directly the Plessey Radar Research Centre in England where I stayed for 10 years which then led me to joining the European Space Agency as a radar specialist on the first European radar satellite ERS-1 where I have been for the last 34 years working on a number of subsequent important satellite programmes.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
Work hard and enjoy the social environment of what is now a very impressive college set up. Remember that a good degree guarantees you nothing but gives you every opportunity to succeed.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
There was a very relaxed environment in the Electrical Engineering Faculty with good opportunities for interaction with the Academic Staff. As Class Rep. in my final two years, I could always discuss topics on behalf of the students. Therefore, I would say that all the Staff had an influence. I also revived a lost tradition by which the students, after final exams, invited our lecturers to a hotel for a social event paid by us. My Class event was very memorable.

Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
For a while I was the representative of the Faculty at the Student General Assembly (SGA) in College. I don’t know if that still exists or for how long it lasted.

Favourite UCC legend or superstition 
Neither legend nor superstition, but a nice tradition that, during Rag Week, we would collect up all the buskers in the city, bring them to lunch in the Rest and then have them play for us.

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