• 05.11.2021
  • Thermal Systems
  • Story

From Fashion School to Space

Tanja Pfundner (23), Manufacturing and Integration expert at RUAG Space in Berndorf, Austria, graduated from fashion school and reports on her typical working day in thermal protection manufacturing....

I have been working at RUAG Space for three years. I started here after graduating from the College for Fashion in Mödling. So I came to the space industry from fashion school. I couldn't imagine having a typical dressmaker's job. When working on thermal protection for space projects, there are many other exciting challenges besides tailoring, and that appealed to me. I'm interested in working with different materials. For example, we work with glass ceramics or Kevlar, a heat-resistant synthetic fiber. I'm fascinated by how that can be processed precisely and where it will be used afterwards in satellites or rockets.

Cutting, sewing, assembling
My typical workday starts at 5:15 in the morning. I drive to work and arrive just before 6:00. I drink a coffee (always with milk) and answer some emails. Then I slip into my work clothes and my activity in the production hall begins. That means sewing, cutting and assembling metal parts. Currently, I'm working on high- temperature insulation for the new European launcher Ariane 6. At 9:00 a.m., we take a fifteen minute break. After that, we often discuss the next steps and the division of work within the team. I spend the rest of the morning working in the hangar. We're a well-coordinated team, and I really appreciate the team spirit.

I enjoy the manual work
During the lunch break I eat food from the cafeteria on the company premises. Because of the coronavirus, we take it with us to eat in the social room. My favorite dish is lasagna. When the weather is nice, I sit outside with the team on our small terrace with a view of the forest. After another coffee, it's back to the hall. I enjoy the manual work, after a day's work I can immediately see what I have created. In my work it is important to be able to mentally switch from 2D to 3D; it takes a good spatial imagination. In between, I check my emails to stay informed about additional work assignments. After work, I like to meet friends for coffee. In the evening, I cook dinner or go for a walk. I often take my camera with me for walks, for example to take pictures of my friends.

/ Recorded by Christian Thalmayr