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Polish Engineers Begin Prestigious Internships at European Space Agency

SCIENCEPolish Engineers Begin Prestigious Internships at European Space Agency

The first group of young engineers from Poland has begun a two-year internship at the European Space Agency (ESA) centers in the Netherlands, Spain, France, and Germany. In total, by 2025, 30 candidates from Poland will be sent for internships at ESA, participating in key scientific and technological initiatives of the agency. This is just one of the initiatives aimed at training personnel for the space sector. The situation in this area has improved over the past years, but with the rapid development of the industry in the coming years, the demand for qualified experts will increase.

“A decade ago, when Poland joined the European Space Agency, it was difficult to find an experienced engineer who could work on a space mission. Now, the situation has greatly changed, and there are already individuals with many years of experience in the space sector. Companies and institutes are taking care of personnel development, such as the internship program for students and graduates conducted by the Association of Employers of the Space Sector and the Industrial Development Agency (ARP) to train new staff. Much has changed, but the dynamic development of the space sector—especially news about increasing Poland’s contribution to ESA’s optional programs, signing agreements for the construction of satellite constellations, and launching funds for the space sector from the National Recovery Plan—will undoubtedly lead to a shortage of specialists again. Therefore, companies and institutes should ensure the support of staff training, and we will certainly cooperate with universities and ministries in this area,” says Paweł Wojtkiewicz, president of the Association of Employers of the Space Sector, to Newseria Biznes.

According to the Polish Space Agency (POLSA), the space sector in Poland currently comprises over 400 entities—mainly SMEs—that collaborate with ESA on a daily basis, employing approximately 15,000 people in total. Polish space companies specialize in areas such as control and robotics, Earth observation data application, mechatronics, optics, satellite communication systems, scientific sensors, and space and ground software. Major European space companies, as well as firms in the ICT and aviation sectors, also have branches in Poland.

The development of the Polish space sector accelerated significantly after Poland joined ESA in 2012, allowing domestic entities to participate in European space programs, gain financial support, and access ESA infrastructure. Last year, Poland decided to increase its commitment—the Ministry of Development and Technology raised the membership fee for 2023–2025 by €295 million and signed agreements with ESA for additional programs supporting the development of the Polish space sector. In total, the Ministry allocated €360 million, significantly increasing investment in ESA activities compared to the original budget plans. Importantly, over 90% of this amount will return to Polish companies and scientific institutions implementing projects in cooperation with ESA. The enhanced cooperation includes building two or three observation satellites in Poland, new contracts for Polish companies, the participation of a Polish astronaut in a mission to the International Space Station (ISS), and the opportunity for Polish graduates to intern at ESA.

“Strengthening the process of building personnel for the space sector in Poland should proceed on multiple fronts, but two important things should be highlighted. First, appropriately directing students at universities who want to work in the space sector and providing them with opportunities to familiarize themselves with the specifics of working in this sector during their studies. There is a broad field for cooperation between universities and companies. Second, ensuring that students undertake as many internships in companies and abroad as possible. The bilateral program recently signed by the Ministry of Development and Technology with ESA, concerning internships for young engineers at the European Space Agency, is very helpful here,” says Paweł Wojtkiewicz.

The first group of Polish graduates began their two-year, paid internship at ESA centers in the Netherlands, Spain, France, and Germany in April this year. By 2025, 30 candidates from Poland will be sent for prestigious internships, participating in key scientific and technological initiatives of the agency. They will gain valuable professional experience in an international environment in areas such as systems engineering, assembly, integration, and testing of the Lunar Gateway space station, the construction of a lunar surface analog center, mission control, and support for manned space flights, and Earth observation technologies. The two-year internships will also allow young engineers to understand the practical functioning of ESA and acquire knowledge and skills that can be utilized in the Polish space sector.

According to Paweł Wojtkiewicz, Polish companies and institutes operating in the space sector are very interested in cooperating with universities to train future personnel for the industry. On the other hand, universities are also seeing an increase in interest among prospective students in fields that later offer opportunities for employment in the space sector.

“These do not have to be people graduating in space engineering. They can be graduates in electronics, programming, materials science, who know how to design space missions, and how to apply their specialization in this specific area, which is the space sector,” says the president of the Association of Employers of the Space Sector. “Studies alone are not enough, and we encourage students to work in scientific circles, prepare student space projects that can be carried out even under the auspices of the European Space Agency. This is a great time to start learning about the space sector. University graduates who also engage in student space projects are highly sought after in the market.”

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