Student Leader Matti

Matti Ukkola is a member of the MOVE team for more than two years now, he spent a big amount of this time leading our software team. For half a year now he is one of the student leads and this is his story...

Who am I? What am I doing here? Good question, glad you asked. My usual answer is: “How much time do you have?” This always is a rhetorical question, after which I propose you get yourself a cup of coffee and start telling my story of how I got here. Yes, tea is also fine.

As you can tell from my name, I am not from Germany. I am from Finland, but to confuse everyone even more, I was born in England and lived there for five years before living for 10 years in Finland. After that, it was time to go again. The next destination was Augsburg. A lovely city in Bavaria, down in southern Germany. Most of my time I spent hanging out with friends, playing the trumpet in a bigband, symphony orchestra and, one of my personal highlights, in a Bavarian brass band (yes, the suits look exactly as you would imagine).

During my high school years I found myself trying to convince people that it makes sense to have ceilings in classrooms, as it was not uncommon that they were missing from our classrooms. Computers would also have been nice but you got to start somewhere, right?. Long story short, my efforts didn’t cause much change. But then I had finished my A-levels and went off to study electrical engineering at the TU Munich (the ceilings are excellent here, thanks for asking).

Some people experience the feeling of “OMG this is so much math” when they start their technical studies. I belong to this group of people. Still, after the first semester, I had not been exmatriculated and so I stayed. On the third day of the semester break I thought it was time to look for something a bit more practical than my Analysis 1 lecture had offered.

Since I was a child, I have loved building things and I have It didn’t take long until I found MOVE. I wrote a mail that said something like this: “Hey I’ve played around with an Arduino and can speak languages, mind if I pop by?”. They were interested and so I started as a member of a new subsystem called DOSIS. Apparently, they did something related to software and LEDs.

Turns out I was so horrible that I was put into a management position. Or maybe Sebastian Würl (previous subsystem lead of DOSIS and a truly inspiring person) just came to me one day and asked if I would be interested in leading DOSIS as he started to work on his master’s thesis, and I seemed to be a good fit. The next year we were busy writing code and exams every now and then. Then came the big restructuring of MOVE where all the subsystems were reorganized. The implementation teams were formed.

I got the honor to lead the software team, as the goals were similar enough to those of DOSIS which ceased to exist after the restructuring. Their key difference was that now the focus was not anymore on the software platform itself, while still part of the development, but writing the software on top of this platform which previously was the task of the subsystems. Consequently, the team grew bigger.

Six months afterward, I was asked if I wanted to take the role as a student lead at MOVE. I obviously could not say no as I knew there were things where I certainly could help. This of course meant that my time as a software team lead was over. However, knowing that Natalia Piotrowski would do an even better job as the team lead as I ever could, I was more than happy to give up the role. And to be honest, yes, I do miss it. At least a bit.

I will leave it for others to judge how well the 2 years of DOSIS and Software went, but I must say I am proud what Sebastian started and what the team managed to make out of it in this short amount of time! As a highlight, presenting the software platform at the “IEEE Aeroconf” must have been the biggest achievement during this time. And while I am already praising, I want to also thank Sebastian Rückerl, the mentor and supervisor of the software team, who has always been open to our ideas and put thousands of hours of work into the software as well. Most importantly, he has been the guiding voice telling us if we were about to do something obviously dumb.

I have mentioned some time spans so far which should make it possible to calculate my age. Luckily, I hate it when professors say, “The calculation is left as homework for the reader”. So, the answer to the age question is 42. No, it is only half of that, at least until August.

Continuing with the present, what are the current plans for MOVE? We are currently finalizing the first iteration of our satellite bus. In June, we flew it on a stratosphere balloon so I am very excited about what we learned along the way. The next step is again a balloon launch in October, where we will have improved the design, fixed the bugs, and added more features to the bus. At the same time, we work on the ADCS and Payload systems and as soon as they are ready-to-go, we will start integrating them into the rest of the system.

Those big milestones will hopefully give us a good indicator of whether our concept works and where to further improve it. We will start looking for launch opportunities for our 3rd generation satellite, MOVE-III and start the first of many amazing satellites. What a time to be alive! I cannot wait and it will surely be amazing!

I hope you enjoyed your coffee. Time to get back to work!