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Philippine Space Agency to Develop T-shaped Workforce

To move ICT forward, manpower is key. It’s paramount, therefore, that the Philippines’ space agency absorb the best talent for the job at hand. Knowing this, the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) is focusing on boosting its ranks with “T-shaped” staff and putting space education in high schools.

As confirmed by its chief, PhilSA director Joel Marciano Jr. said that the PSA is looking to hire more people and bring space education to high school students. In a webinar, he disclosed that the agency is new having been established in 2019 and mobilised in 2020. Thus, it is currently developing its manpower and is looking for “T-shaped” people or those that have the expertise.

T-shaped people refer to abilities that make an employee valuable. These kinds of workers harbour excellent skill sets in specific areas and are good at working with others in a collaborative way. In short, they are experts in one field and can work in other fields as well. On the other end of the spectrum, I-shaped people have narrow expertise.

We are developing a T-shaped workforce. We are hiring more people. Right now, you may not feel us yet. The PhilSA aims to contribute to the international community through scientific enterprise.

– Joel Marciano Jr, Director, Philippine Space Agency

 The agency is also currently developing its space education and public outreach division. In this regard, Marciano said PhilSA targets to educate high school students about cube satellites and nanotechnology to integrate space education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) studies.

Recently, PhilSA announced the start of building a next-generation satellite under the Advanced Satellite for the Philippines (ASP) project of the STAMINA4Space Programme. The project is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and implemented by the University of the Philippines (UP) and the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI), in coordination with PhilSA.

They have partnered with the world’s leading commercial small satellite company for the design and manufacture of a multispectral satellite capable of imaging an approximate area of 100,000 km2 of the country daily.

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña affirmed that the private satellite company is a leader in developing commercial-grade earth observation satellites as well as delivering a Know-How Transfer and Training (KHTT) programme that can aid in our capacity-building efforts. Moreover, he said phase 1 of the project has just started through the remote delivery of the Satellite System Design course by the University of Surrey. This was attended by 30 Filipino engineers.

Another set of courses and lectures on systems engineering will be delivered further equip engineers with the theoretical knowledge needed to build the country’s next satellite. Thirteen of the 30 engineers will be deployed to SSTL in the UK for full immersion in the design and manufacture of the Philippines’ next satellite, de la Peña said. It will come in two phases. The Phase 2 activity will be transitioned to and led by the PhilSA to continue on the building and launching of the satellite, as well as retaining and utilising the know-how gained through this collaboration to essentially improve our local satellite development capabilities, both in turnout time and reliability. 

Fortunato de la Peña said the commercial-grade satellite will provide timely, high-resolution images of the Philippines, from which insights can be made to aid decision-making in agriculture, disaster management, national security, coastal monitoring and ocean studies. The expected launch year of the satellite is 2023.

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