Picture of Sofia Rahiminejad.
Following her studies in Engineering Physics and her PhD at MC2, Sofia Rahiminejad got a top job at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, USA.  Photo: Private

She made her way to space

As a child, she never dreamed of working on space exploration, but the goal was always to study at Chalmers. Following her studies in Engineering Physics and her PhD at MC2, Sofia Rahiminejad got a top job at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, USA. "Now that I'm there, I think everything that has to do with space is super cool", she says.

Why did you choose Engineering Physics at Chalmers?

"I had read that it was the least practical education of all and thought “What a great thing! Then nothing can go wrong.” I had joined the Electrical Program at the upper secondary school which was a very practical education where things always broke down. I had it easy for math when I was younger and physics was really an extension of math for me. But the program turned out to be much more demanding than I thought. My trick was to always write my own summaries after reading the texts in the books, so that I actually understood what it was that we learned."
 

How would you describe your student life?

Picture of Sofia Rahiminejad."It was almost more hectic than the studies because I wanted to be part of everything, but for me it was also a prerequisite for being able to do the studies. I was in the F-Spexet where I learned to be a good speaker. I have great use for that now when I give presentations. I was also in a public relations association at Chalmers and it was a lot of fun, but also a lot of effort. There I learned how to organize my time in a good way."
 

What are you working on at Nasa?

"We want to find water and life on other planets. Often, water is an indication of life, but also a sign that we may be able to visit other planets and settle there in the future. One method used to look for these things is to send out spacecrafts that look at other planets, moons and asteroids with radar. When you do this today, the entire vehicle has to move in order to map a surface. It runs slowly and requires a lot of energy. My work is to try to streamline the process of phase shifters controlled by micromotors, which in turn can be used to design electrically controllable antennas that do not need to move when mapping a surface."
 

What was the best thing you got from your education?

"Learning to learn, the ability to get into a subject or process quickly and having methods to do it. I am also happy for all the friends I made for life. We are a great gang of girls from Engineering Physics who all chose to work with very different things and we meet as often as we can!"
 
Text: Vedrana Sivac
Photo: Private

Footnote: After graduating with a degree in engineering physics, Sofia Rahiminejad began a research career in the Electronics Materials and Systems Laboratory at the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience - MC2, Chalmers. She completed her PhD in December 2016. She continued as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in 2017, with the help of the Wenner-Gren foundation fellowship award, as well as additional funding from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation.

Published: Tue 28 Apr 2020.