Passionate about space studies? The International Space University (ISU) is the place to be in, writes Ramasamy Venugopal

International Space University (ISU), Strasbourg, is unique in that one does not study just the engineering or science aspects of space. A degree at ISU gives you an understanding of all the facets of the space industry — including space policy and economics, space law, humanities, human physiology in space, and so on. This means that whatever your background, be it engineering, law, architecture or art, you could have a place at ISU if you are a high-achiever and passionate about space.

ISU’s founders wanted to create a university that prepared students (not just technically) for the space industry. Since space projects in the future are bound to be international and interdisciplinary in nature, why shouldn’t the university be the same? The 3 I’s – international, interdisciplinary, intercultural — are the pillars of ISU. My class had 36 students from more than 15 countries, from diverse fields of study.

ISU is located in Strasbourg, a truly international city perfectly suited for this international university. It hosts the European Parliament, the International Court of Human Rights. It has the biggest university in France and several research institutions besides being multi-lingual. English will do sometimes, but learning a basic level of French could make life easier. There are several Indian shops and a sizeable Indian population to make you feel at home. Of course, this is a different country, and an open mind will go a long way in dealing with any ‘culture shock’.

Course and campus

The fourth unspoken ‘I’ of ISU is Intensive. The course runs for 12 months, including a three-month internship. There are numerous team assignments, workshops, an individual and a team project along with regular exams. So, time management is of utmost importance. The faculty, consisting of knowledgeable and highly experienced people from the space industry, are always friendly and approachable.

ISU has a fantastic library for space enthusiasts, which is broad in content, form and volume. It also has a satellite design CDF (concurrent design facility), a small radio telescope, and a microgravity drop tower, among other facilities.

Some students end up working at national space agencies and private corporations. There are others who prefer to continue their education, and a few who end up starting their own companies. ISU’s most important asset is its network of contacts in the space industry. It has been at the centre of space education for the past 25 years. ISU alumni are scattered all over the world, occupying even the top positions in industry. Being an ISUian provides a platform for meeting and engaging with these and other fellow space geeks.

In short, if you are crazy about space and wanting to make a career out of it, ISU is the place to be in.

The writer did MSc in space studies the ISU. Email: ramasamy.venugopal@community.isunet.edu