From Business Management to space technology

A future career in space may now be on the cards for three Business Management students who were inspired to use satellite technology to improve life for people in former war zones in the developing world.

A good cause

Patrick Motley, Blaise Umbagodo and Alberto Tinta came up with a potentially life-saving idea for their entry to the UK Space Agency’s SatelLife competition for young people. And they won.

The competition called for ideas on how data collected from satellites could benefit our economy, health or the environment and could improve life on Earth. The trio’s winning idea was a tool that would allow improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other unexploded bombs to be identified in warzones, and then use drones and precision satellite positioning to increase the safety of bomb disposal teams.

Patrick explains: “We knew this would significantly improve life in the countries that need this help. We wanted a creative solution to issues these people are facing right now.”

The students’ victory came with a £5,000 prize. Patrick says: “We didn’t expect to win. We were all shocked. We didn’t know if it was real at first but we’re obviously delighted.”

Blaise Umbagodo, Alberto Tinta and Patrick Motley
From left, Blaise Umbagodo, Alberto Tinta and Patrick Motley

Creativity and innovation

The students entered the competition while studying the Business Creativity and Innovation module, which focuses on idea generation. Throughout this module, the students were encouraged to be creative and generate new and original ideas, products and services to solve problems.

Module leader Chinthaka Aluthgama-Baduge introduced them to the competition, which links directly to the module. The students were able to link the competition to one of their assessments, giving them the ability to improve their grades while also seizing opportunities in the outside world.

Chinthaka says: “Being innovative, creative and confident of your own ideas is a key employability skill in today’s challenging business environment.”

Patrick adds: “We thought it would be an interesting project to use as a practice assessment. During the module, we looked into other areas and subjects for inspiration. But we wanted to use the technology for a good cause.”

Future career

The Business Management students are now considering a career in space and are looking into opportunities to work in this exciting industry in the future.

Patrick says: “A career in space isn’t something I’d thought of before but, given our success in the competition, it’s definitely something to look at.

“To have a prestigious accolade like this to put on your CV will help us stand out from the crowd. Even if we don’t choose to go down the career path relating to space, I’m sure this competition will enhance our credibility when looking for jobs.”

student in the Bloomberg suite

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Working as a team

Patrick, Blaise and Alberto’s won the prize by applying their inspiration and knowledge to a innovative new idea. They are looking forward to developing their idea in the future. They have split the prize money between them and Patrick has decided to spend it on a new laptop.

They will now go on to pitch their idea to a panel of industry experts at the Harwell Space Cluster in Oxfordshire in the hope of gaining further support to turn it into reality.

Looking to space

Space is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK and it is estimated an additional 30,000 new career opportunities could be created by 2030.

“Being creative has become more important than ever before and we are proud of this great achievement by Pat, Blaise and Alberto," says Chinthaka. "It is these skills that are essential in today’s workplace and this is a very good example of the applied, real-world learning experience that the University of Derby offers to develop students’ entrepreneurial capabilities.”