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Ota Michálek

Our scholarship holder since 2020


University of the West of England, Bristol

Field of study

Aerospace Engineering




About me

I come from Ostrava where I studied at Olga Havlova Grammar School until 2019. During those years I engaged with various extracurricular activities which further expanded my knowledge and passion for physics and space. The most beneficial were the International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT) and High School Special Activity (SOČ). IYPT showed me that I could manage to study physics in English and motivated me to apply to UK universities for Aerospace Engineering courses to pursue my dream of working in the space industry.

My degree - Aerospace Engineering

I currently study Aerospace Engineering at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol. My first year started in September 2019. I appreciate the form of our programme where we are often immersed in team projects where we must apply newly gained knowledge from lectures in practice. So, it is not just about exams, but a great part of our assessments are also projects, be it group or individual. Another great advantage which is also common for many other programmes in the UK is the option of a placement year in industry between the second and third year, where you work full-time while still completing a module with the university and getting professional experience before even finishing your studies.

University experience

Since the first year, I worked on both university projects but also tried to map out all the opportunities and engage with as many as possible. In the first year, I participated in Aerochallenge by the Royal Aeronautical Society and NASA Space Apps Challenge. In my second year, I successfully applied to become a PAL Leader (Peer Assisted Learning), who supports first-year students in collaborative learning and getting the best experience from university. During the second year, I also held a volunteering position as a Democratic Procedures Officer with the UWE Student Union (UWE SU). My role was to oversee the democracy of processes within the UWE SU and chair some of the meetings. I also took part in two ESA Academy activities. The first was Ladybird Guide to Spacecraft Communications, which was about all the considerations for operators to be able to talk to satellites in orbit. The second was Fly a Rocket! Programme, which included the study phase and practical part – launch campaign in Norway of a rocket going to 9 km in October 2021! For my third year at university, I managed to secure a placement at Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in the Central Laser Facility (CLF) as part of the Artemis group focusing on femtosecond laser science. During the placement year, I also volunteered at a Covid-19 vaccination centre. Upon my return from placement, I started working on my bachelor’s thesis in cooperation with laser centre HiLASE in Prague which is about the adjustment of terrestrial lasers for use in space. I also organised miniconference Next stop: Space as part of Czech Space Week in 2022.

Hobbies and interests

I study what I love, so it is often hard to find the boundary between hobby and work. But my space-related hobbies include being part of the Czech Rocket Society, which is independent society consisting of Czech students from various universities with passion for rockets and space. I also like stargazing with and without telescope, climbing, cycling, hiking, snowboarding, 3D printing and of course, computer games.

My goals

One of my biggest current goals is to finish my bachelor’s thesis and continue to my master’s degree whilst making contacts in the Czech space industry. The best part about the aerospace engineering degree is that your knowledge base I very broad and you can also go into more depth if you find what you really like, but also switch a little bit during your career. I have not decided what kind of team I want to be part of specifically yet, however, I know I want my work to be close to space exploration. There are many opportunities out there, so I always try to engage with whatever comes at me as something which at first doesn’t seem very useful might turn out to be a breakthrough for your career.