When space missions create a positive impact on earth  

ESA tech leader to become Engineer of the Year 2023  

Today, Stefaan De Mey became Engineer of the Year 2023. The main motivation of the jury was not so much his tech leadership, but his desire to positively impact our planet and our society. ImpactBuilders founder Jan Lagast was present at the Award Ceremony.

Every year the faculty of Engineering Sciences and Architecture of the University of Ghent (Belgium) and its Alumni association AIG, honour one tech leader to become the Engineer of the Year. Last year, Tim Berckmoes, CEO of Anglo Belgian Corporation received the award after having disrupted the manufacturing industry of diesel engines, when started producing large diesel engines with almost zero pollution.

This year, dr. ir. Stefaan De Mey, Strategy Officer for Human and Robotic Exploration from the European Space Agency (ESA) received the important Belgian award, and is now a one-year main role model for the European engineering community.

Understanding earth … by looking back from space

Of course, ESA is an impressive ‘tech house’. With a budget of 7 billion euro, and a majority of tech experts among its 5000 employees, one would not expect it to be anything else than thé place for tech lovers. And evidently, one of the impacts ESA has on society, is that it actively stimulates young people to take a STEM-inspired educational path. But there is more. The Copernicus program, e.g., has a variety of satellites circling the earth who collect a variety of data about the earth’s land use, forest evolution, ice volume, weather conditions, ship traffic, … These data are freely available for anyone who wants to make a study, write a report, and even build an app, that uses all of the data.

About the event location

The Engineer of the Year award venue was an almost hidden gem in the heart of the Ghent student quarter. One of the oldest buildings of the university houses on of the first weather stations and space observatories in Flanders.

It has a telescope that was built in 1880, that is still functioning today, thanks to a group of enthusiast volunteers who are keeping the gates open for citizens and schools to get their first glimpse into space – and get them inspired and passionate about space, earth and tech.