Hermine Schnetler

I don't care whether people like me or dislike me. I'm not on earth to win a popularity contest. I'm here to be the best human being I possibly can be.

Favourite Thing: Development of cool products, like working on my micro-autonomous robots. Also to push the team to think of how we can improve and optimise our designs.



I went to school in South Africa and the school is called Oos-Moot. The school has a page in Facebook. Please feel free to go and have a look.


University of Pretoria and Cranfield Institute of Technology now called Cranfield University

Work History:

Kentron, Denel Optronics and Agilent Technologies


United Kingdom Technology Centre ((I like the word “technology” in my company or institution’s name)

Current Job:

Head of Group: Systems Engineering

Me and my work

As Head of Group for Systems Engineering at UKATC, I help to define both the processes and the requirements for future astronomical instruments. Working with diverse global teams, this is a challenging and stimulating role.

As a systems engineer I am responsible to make sure that all the products we developed are “fit for use”. This implies that if I am doing a good job our astronomers (UK and European) will have telescopes and instruments to do great science with myimage1. To ensure that the telescopes and instruments are fit for use I have to make sure that we define it correctly by analysing the requirements and capture it correctly myimage2 myimage5. Once we know what we need, then it is my job to make sure that the design complies to the requirements. I also have to make sure that the resulting product is easy to make, easy to integrate and easy to use. Being the systems engineer of an astronomy project is extremely creative and rewarding. I hope one day I hope I can say that I was instrumental when one of the UK astronomers win a Nobel price having used an instruments for which I was the systems engineer. I am also invloved in small research projects. For example we are investigating the possibility of using micro-autonomous robots to pick-off the objects in sky which the Astronomers would like to analyse. These robots can be as small as 20 x 20 mm. myimage3

My Typical Day

My typical day consists of various activities and to be honest no day is the same, so don’t really have a typical day. All I know is that I typically enjoy every day at work.

During a typical day I will attend various types of meetings , for example project, group or one-to-one meetings with members of my team.I will also spend a lot of time speaking to members of the engineering team regarding their design inputs to my current projects. The rest of the time I will use various Systems Engineering tools (PC and software based) to capture system design and requirements of the product we are developing. A typical day away from the office will normally be spent in a team meeting environment myimage6where the project team will work together and make decisions on the final instrument or telescope design.

What I'd do with the money

I will use the money to enable a child from a disadvantaged family in South Africa to visit one of the large telescopes in the world and hopefully inspire this youngster to be interested in science and technology.

myimage8. The child will be selected via a science competition.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Enthusiastic, focussed, proactive

Who is your favourite singer or band?

The Beatles

What is the most fun thing you've done?

White river rafting on the Zambezi river in Africa

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

I only need one wish and the wish is: that every positive thing I ever wish for will come true!!!

What did you want to be after you left school?

Initially a great surgeon, but then I took Computer Science as a subject and then I wanted to become an electronic engineer so that I can be involved in the development of great products.

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Yes, some of the time when I have tried to keep my mates out of trouble.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

The successful development of a number of “fit for use” products.

Tell us a joke.

What are black holes? Things you get in black socks!