An Interview with Space Student Ambassadors – Coco Dobbie and Nicola Baker
It’s World Space Week and the theme for 2021 is ‘Women in Space’.
This is part 2 of our interview series of some amazing women in space. If you didn’t catch our first ‘Women in Space’ interview with Image Processor Zara Hepple you can right here.
Geoimage reached out to One Giant Leap Australia Foundation to hear from some of the female student ambassadors who are highly involved in the spatial sciences. We interviewed Coco Dobbie and Nicola Baker to hear what they have to share about their passion and involvement in the spatial world.
Hey Coco and Nicola. Thanks for speaking with us at Geo. Can you first tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Coco: I am currently completing my Year 12 where I study Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering Studies, Mathematics and English. Ever since I was about 8, I wanted to be an astronaut. I’ve always been interested in the stars and the science around them. Since then, I’ve set my focus on a career in the space industry beginning with a Space Camp with One Giant Leap Australia. It was such a valuable experience, and I’ve been lucky enough to continue a space-centered path with One Giant Leap Australia. In my spare time I like to surf, scuba dive and rollerblade.
Nicola: I am also completing Year 12 where my favourite subject is biology. In the middle of 2020, I got a drone which I also use for photography and it has changed the way I think about and take photos. In 2019, I had an amazing opportunity to go on the One Giant Leap Australia Space Camp Tour. It changed my life where since then I have been given so many opportunities to do what I love. In my spare time I am often taking photos with my camera.
What fascinates you about the space industry and what do you love the most?
Coco: What really fascinates me is the amount of space there is and how much more we have yet to explore. I love the idea of deep space flight and my favourite mission has been Voyager 1 and 2, for their roles in deep space exploration. I’m also interested in human space flight and how we can work on improving it in the coming future, to take us comfortably to Mars and beyond.
Nicola: As with many other industries, there is a sense of teamwork. It’s very much a team-based industry and I love that. Everyone has a vision for the future and is working towards a goal and better understanding of our world. I am also part of the ‘The Gadget Girlz’ with One Giant Leap Australia and we work together to solve real world problems. We don’t compete and we support each person’s ideas and perspectives. I really value that in the spatial industry a great emphasis is on collaboration.
As student ambassadors of One Giant Leap Australia, can you tell us what that entails?
Coco: Since becoming a student ambassador, I’ve been able to run workshops locally and in late 2020 I was the MC for the CSU Women in Space Conference (virtually). Earlier in this year, I was awarded the EOS scholarship for Future Excellence in STEM, which is a great opportunity. Being an ambassador means I get to contribute to workshops for kids interest in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] while also participating myself. I have had the chance to fly drones, run robots, launch rockets and experiment with submarines for example.
Nicola: Being a student Ambassador has opened many doors. I get to learn about remote control planes, submarines, drones, rockets, electronics and using telescopes at night. I have developed my leadership skills and confidence, while building an amazing network of people in the space industry across the world. NASA flight directors, astronauts, NASA JPL engineers, astrobiologists and many others have become part of my network. As an ambassador, I help younger girls through workshops in the STEM activities, I have spoken at Telstra conferences and won scholarships with PCYC and Rotary. These have helped me apply for my drone license and to do engineering through distance education.
Where do you see yourself in the future of the space industry?
Coco: My ultimate goal is to be an astronaut. In order to get there, I have to immerse myself fully in engineering and space science. I find working with satellites very interesting especially using that surveying technology for research to find solutions particularly for the current climate crisis. Australia has a strong growing space front, however to pursue my career in astronautics I may have to move to Europe or the USA. I’ve got a long way to go to achieve my goals, but I’m confident I will get where I want to be.
Nicola: I can see myself in the spatial industries in analyzing imagery and supplying this data to clients. It is just one step higher than my drone work. We need to be able to see Earth in many different perspectives. This helps us make better and informed choices which can assist in many decisions made by various industries and governments. This would give me a great sense of achievement.
What is your advice to other young females wanting to enter the spatial industries?
Coco: That’s the most important thing by far, is really just not letting people tell you what you can and can’t be. I used to be embarrassed to tell people I wanted to be an astronaut – that sounds like a 5-year old’s goal, right? But it’s not embarrassing. Be confident in who you are and what your goals are. Anything is possible as soon as you decide it is.
Nicola: If there was one thing I could pass on, it’s that if you enjoy something enough and are passionate about it – don’t give up – even if someone tells you that you shouldn’t do it. I have had numerous amounts of people tell me that what I’m doing is stupid or nerdy and I have taken that in and used it for the better. The best thing you can do is make connections with people and do what you love. It’s worth it in the end.
Those are very inspiring closing words girls. We thank you both for sharing your love of space with us.
Thank you to One Giant Leap Australia Foundation for encouraging exploration in the Spatial and STEM industries.
Our final interview in our ‘Women in Space‘ series is up next with Geoimage’s very own Diana Herrmann.