Project managers plan and manage resources for projects to deliver them on time and on budget. Frequently these roles are filled by experienced engineers or scientists.
Projects in the space industry are varied and often unlike anything else found in the fields of engineering or science. Depending on their specialisation, project managers might need a working knowledge of any number of disparate fields including rocketry, space-borne life support, chemical fuels and spacecraft design. Because of the technical knowledge required, most project managers in the space industry are senior scientists or engineers.
Project managers oversee the technical and business aspects of a project in order to make sure it is completed on time and on budget. They are in charge of the staffing, budgeting, planning, risk management and administrative tasks required for the project. They also create project plans, timelines and cost estimates, constantly tracking, adjusting and reporting on progress.
Training staff and keeping clients, senior management, staff and other stakeholders informed are also key parts of the role.
In addition to technical knowledge, project managers in the space industry need to understand the fundamentals of traditional project management skills. These include documentation, working with suppliers, workflow design, quality assurance and prioritisation of tasks.
Because of the technical knowledge required, most project managers in the space industry are senior scientists or engineers. However, it may be possible to transition from a traditional business project management background.
The following TAFE courses are relevant to becoming a project manager:
- Certificate IV in Project Management Practice (BSB41515)
- Diploma of Project Management (BSB51415)
Degrees in the following study areas may also be relevant to becoming a project manager:
- Engineering Management
- Business Administration
- Business Management
- Project Management
Almost all universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Visit individual university websites for more information.
The following universities offer undergraduate study options specifically related to the space industry which may be relevant to a career in project management:
- RMIT University’s Bachelor of Space Science
- Swinburne University's Space Technology minor, which is available to undergraduate students in any degree
- The University of Sydney’s Space Engineering stream, which is available to undergraduate Aeronautical, Mechatronic and Mechanical Engineering students
At the postgraduate level, the following courses may be relevant to project management in the space industry:
- The International Space University’s Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program, which forms the first part of the University of South Australia’s Graduate Certificate of Space Studies
- UNSW@ADFA’s Master of Space Operations
- UNSW@ADFA’s Master of Space Engineering
- UNSW’s Master of Engineering Science (Satellite Systems Engineering)
- UNSW’s Master of Engineering Science (Space Systems Engineering)
Postgraduate qualifications and industry accreditation in project management are also widely available.