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Sapienza Consulting Celebrates International Women Engineering Day 2021

23/06/2020 – Noordwijk – The Netherlands

In celebration of International Women Engineering Day this year we are featuring two of our female employees within the Space Industry.

International Women in Engineering Day is an international awareness campaign launched worldwide in 2017, aims to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the incredible career opportunities available to girls.

This year’s theme is focusing on Engineering Heroes! To mark this special occasion and the outstanding contribution of women engineers around the world are makeing, we asked Emilia Barbagallo and Martina Aste to share their story and explain how their engineering skills are making a difference in the European space industry.

Emilia Barbagallo, EGSE Software Engineer at ESA/ESTEC, The Netherlands

I am currently working as a Sapienza Consulting contractor for the European Space Agency (ESA), holding a position of EGSE Software Engineer, in the Ground Software Systems and Functional Verification Section at ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands.

Since my graduation in 2006, I have been working in the Aerospace Industry, particularly in the Ground Segment support activities.

I studied Electronics Engineering at the University of Catania, my hometown in Italy. My inclination to learning and further developing as an Engineer brought me to leave my hometown after my graduation and to join a consulting company in Florence, where I spent over 5 years working as a Software Engineer. In this context, I started gaining experience in ground segment systems for space projects, working with major customers.

In 2012 I took the large step to move to the Netherlands and to join a company that provides space and ground segment systems. The experience in an international environment has been very formative and encouraging: this led me to tackle a new challenge and apply for a contractor position with Sapienza Consulting for the European Space Agency in 2013.

Being selected to work in ESTEC has allowed me to start a fruitful and gratifying work experience, which has been evolving for more than seven years now and has allowed me to work in a number of ESA projects like EarthCARE, Sentinel-2, SGEO, CHEOPS, EUCLID, Bepi Colombo, Solar Orbiter, EDRS-C, ELECTRA.

Since 2014 I am part, as Software and Database Engineer, of the ESA METEOSAT Third Generation (MTG) team. The MTG programme will provide Europe and, by extension, the International Community, with an operational satellite system with enhanced capabilities to support accurate prediction of meteorological phenomena and to allow monitoring of climate and air composition.

I take care of the data and software management of the Spacecraft Reference Database (SRDB) and of the Spacecraft Characterisation and Calibration Database (SCCDB), handling customer-supplier interfaces and addressing the configuration management challenges of the databases and their relationship with other satellite elements.

I monitor the progress in the data verification and validation activities, supporting industry in defining adequate processes and reporting project team on the achieved data quality, for the execution of system verification tests and in preparation of satellite operations.

The best thing of taking care of all these tasks in a project like MTG is that I have the possibility to work in a tight relationship with industries, customers and business partners: I love to interact with engineers and scientists with different experience and different background, all working together for the preparation of the satellites launch and commissioning.

The launch of the first MTG satellite is approaching, the pressure is on and we are all looking forward to be together for such an amazing event!

Martina Aste, Programme / Project Controller at ESA/ESTEC, The Netherlands

I am originally from Italy, and I moved to the Netherlands at the end of 2019. I have a Master degree in Aerospace Engineering and a Master in Business Administration, both from the University of Bologna. I worked in the Automotive and Household appliances industries and more recently in the Aerospace sector mainly in Procurement departments.

I am currently working at Sapienza Consulting as Programme / Project Controller at European Space Agency in Noordwijk in the Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration. I am supporting the Technical Officer in the Manpower Contracts recruitment process and I am working in the Fixed Assets Management.

What I like the most about my job is that I constantly learn new things about the Space projects ESA has on-going and the future ones.

It is still quite strange for me to think that on my daily activity I am talking about projects that are on the International Space Station, experiments that will be launched and it is really exiting to think, also if in really limited way I am contributing to Explore Mars and to have an European on the Moon.. maybe a Woman!


We would like to sincerely thank Emilia and Martina. We are very honoured to have featured these inspiring women on this important day. We will always continue to promote a company culture that supports equality and diversity, and will always offer support to our employees in order to be able to express their multifaceted skills to the best of their potential.

Happy International Women Engineering Day! 🚀

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