From a small town in India
to the vast expanses of Space.
Shreya Santra, MSc Alumnus / Space and Engineering Systems
Shreya Santra graduated from the Skoltech Space Engineering masters program in 2018. Her achievements throughout her time at Skoltech have been nothing short of exemplary: from launching an apparatus into the earth's atmosphere to enhancing the decision-making and localization capabilities of UAVs, to traveling halfway across the world to present her research to the executive figures of the international space community, Shreya has immersed herself in Skoltech's learning-by-doing ethos, laying the foundation for her dream career as a space scientist.
about me
I come from a very small town. Good academic records are important; however, dreaming of something more than a normal engineering job is scary. Space engineering is still not popular in India, and very few universities offer this course. This was a significant obstacle I had to overcome while making my early career decisions.

In view of the limited space educational opportunities available at the time, I decided to earn my bachelor's degree in Electronics Engineering from the National Institute of Technology in Jamshedpur. I figured this would give me a solid foundation that could eventually open doors to space science. The next step was earning at Masters degree in Space Science and Technology at the International Space University (ISU) in France. My experiences at ISU was overwhelming and helped me grow. It also introduced me to Skoltech.

new horizons
Skoltech has truly expanded my skills and opened new horizons to me. At the Intelligent Space Robotics Lab, I had the opportunity to conduct extensive research on enhancing the decision-making and localization capabilities of UAVs so they can autonomously follow designated paths while successfully avoiding obstacles.

As part of Professor Alessandro Golkar's Systems Engineering course, I gained my first opportunity to send a creation we engineered with a small team of classmates into Earth's stratosphere. I was also honored by the Space Generation Advisory Council – a non-governmental organization established in support of the United Nations Program on Space Applications – with the Space Generation Leadership Award. This awards ceremony was hosted at the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Australia, the world's largest annual astronautics conference. There I presented two technical papers that I co-authored with Professor Dzmitry Tsetserukou, head of Skoltech's Intelligent Space Robotics Lab and my then research advisor.

My student experiences at Skoltech deserve a mention, too. Along with a team of enthusiastic space students, I helped to organize Skoltech's first SpaceUp events for two consecutive years (2017 and 2018). SpaceUp is an international 'unconference' where space enthusiasts can present their ideas, projects and network with like-minded space lovers. SpaceUp Skoltech was first of its kind in Russia. Organizing it was a pleasure as I got a lot of support from the Student Department and the Event planning team. During the process I learned how to lead a team, how to deal with higher authorities and how to stay motivated if faced with rejection.

Master's in Space and Engineering Systems
This program combines study of the general principles of complex engineering system construction with participation in satellite, drone and robotic systems-building projects. The program is also aimed to provide the fundamental skills in data analysis for the development of complex system applications fostering the synergies and interdependencies between engineering, industry and space science (satellite imagery and communications, satellite navigation, remote sensing and in-situ data of space weather).

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Shreya speaking at the Skoltech 2018 Commencement ceremony
research
Eventually, my time at Skoltech has come to its logical conclusion. My master's thesis was based on the "Development of a Localization System for Warehouse Application of UAVs". It was part of the Skoltech startup WareVision, that aims to improve warehouse logistics using autonomous UAVs and ground vehicles. My task was to enable the UAV to understand its environment in the absence of GPS and strategically position itself over the ground vehicle. Augmented Reality using Infrared LEDs were used to achieve the objectives.

I graduated from Skoltech in spring 2018. Currently, I am pursuing my PhD at the Space Robotics Lab at Tohoku University, Japan, working on the coordination and communication between swarm of micro-rovers. These swarm of rovers are designed to explore the surfaces of Moon and Mars.

My research is to model the communication architecture between the multiple rovers so that they can exchange information effectively. Such coordination will enable them to efficiently understand and autonomously navigate through unknown environments. My research also paved the path to briefly visit Caltech/JPL where I worked on the communication network design for multiple lander systems on Saturn's moon Enceladus.
advice to future students
If I were to describe my experience at Skoltech in three words, it would be: Independent, Supportive, Innovative.

It makes me very happy to see my parents and teachers proud of my achievements. Every time I accomplish something, even if it is trivial, they take pride in it and encourage me. I am also involved with space outreach movements and I am proud that with my work I inspire many children back home to follow their dreams and never give up.

Lastly, Skoltech is a wonderful place for international students. It is a place where one can learn, grow and develop new skills. People are very open-minded and accepting, always supporting new ideas. The laboratories have cutting edge equipment and advanced facilities. Skoltech is on its way to become one of the best institutes of the world and you should consider investing your future here!

and now about Skoltech
We are Skoltech – a new international English-speaking STEM university that was founded by the group of world-renowned scientists in 2011 in Moscow, Russia. In just 8 years, we united dozens of researchers and globally renowned professors, built a stunning campus, set up world-class labs and made it to the top 100 young universities in the Nature Index. Read more >>
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