Our new software lead: Interview with Natia (Natalia) Piotrowski

Please introduce yourself

Hi, my name is Natalia Piotrowski, but everyone simply calls me Natia. I´m 20 years old and currently in the 6th Bachelor semester of my study course Informatics: Games Engineering. I joined MOVE in October 2020 because I wanted to gain more hands-on experience in Software development. A friend of mine, who had joined MOVE earlier, sent me the Zoom Link for the Kick-off for that semester. Space had been a long interest of mine and I love the idea of students being able to develop a satellite and wanted to be part of that, which is why I ended up joining the Kick-off and later the team.

What are your responsibilities as software lead?

As software lead, I am tasked with coordinating the software team and communicate with other teams about what needs to be done from their side. I also have to make sure that everyone in the team is able to work on their assigned issues and motivated to do so. In short, MOVE became a lot bigger for me, since I now have to focus on more things and talk to a lot more people than before. So far it has been a great learning opportunity for me and I´m excited for the months to come.

What’s on your agenda for the next months?

Right now, our main focus is the balloon launch in June which we are very excited about. The balloon launch gives us a great opportunity to test our system before eventually launching the satellite.

But beyond that, we are also currently on our way to opensource DOSIS.

What’s the progress on the balloon launch?

We are currently focusing on two main points for the Balloon launch: Storing the data generated by sensors and communication with the balloon. We are making steady progress with some hardware tests already started.

Do you have a favourite moment in your time at MOVE?

To be honest, there´s a bunch of moments that I would consider as my favourites, but I´ll restrain myself to one.

In the beginning of the lecture period, we had a so-called “Powerweek”, where for one week we worked together every day in a Zoom call on our issues. We got a lot accomplished during this week, which I´m extremely proud of. But my favourite moments during that week were actually when nothing went how we wanted it to and we just all sat in the Zoom call and suffered together. That might sound very contradictory, but these were, in my opinion, the funniest moments of the week- looking back at least.

What would you tell younger girls thinking about studying STEM courses? What is the women percentage in the software team and does it bother you that most of your fellow students are male?

If you are interested: go for it. STEM courses can be very intimidating from the outside but once you get into them, they are super fascinating. It opens your eyes to how everything around you actually works and it is both complicated and simple at the same time. The most important thing is to just keep asking questions, even if it makes you feel stupid. At the end of the day, you will have learned something new.

In the software team, we are currently roughly between 15% and 20% women, which is sadly not too much. I think this comes simply from the fact that there aren’t that many women in STEM courses to begin with. Not because there are not enough interested women but because women are less motivated and supported from the outside throughout school, which is why so few women decide to go for STEM courses-at least that’s my experience. Of these few women in STEM courses, not everyone has an interest in MOVE and the time to join the team, which is why I would suspect that our women percentage is this low.

Even though I wish there were more women in STEM courses and in DOSIS, I don’t mind at all that most of my fellow students and teammates are male. I think that everyone in our team is incredibly nice and welcoming and that’s all that matters at the end of the day and not the gender of a person.

What are some difficulties your struggled with in your studies and when you first came to MOVE?

Before I started my studies I didn´t know any programming, so I had to learn a lot in my first few semesters, which was very hard. Even now I am still learning something new every day as my own studies deviate a fair bit from the concepts we tackle in MOVE-though I don’t think that “struggle” is the appropriate term for that.