Tori Tasker is set on her mission to one day see space up close, and obtaining a Master of Systems Engineering with the Space Systems specialisation has brought her one step closer to that dream.

With a background in humanities and business, Tori wanted to gain a high-level understanding of systems engineering when she joined the National Space Capability, Technology and Programs Branch at the Australian Space Agency in March 2022.

“I do not have an undergraduate degree in engineering, and what appealed to me about UNSW Canberra was the entry requirements and that it was clearly explained why studying a Master of Systems Engineering would be beneficial for me. It is hard to find other programs that do this,” Tori said.

“Systems engineering was great for me as it provided me with the whole end-to-end perspective of engineering, which is more useful for what I want to work towards and complements my background in humanities and business.

“The breadth of information that was available was a highlight for me at UNSW Canberra. The opportunity to engage with different people and get their perspectives, for example, working on a project based on submarines with Defence personnel as my peers was incredibly insightful. It was really interesting to engage with Defence personnel and see the differences and similarities between defence and civil systems engineering.”

Starting a new role in 2024, Tori aims to bring the breadth of her experience, now including systems engineering, to help with stakeholder engagement, enhancing her skills in eliciting their needs and understanding across various space systems.

“A lot of my work requires me to talk with various stakeholders, and space is a very international industry,” she said.

“But I now understand the vocabulary of engineering, which is like a universal language. I can now have deeper conversations with colleagues from around the world.

“I have a background in business with a focus on supply chain and logistics, and now bringing that together with my Master of Systems Engineering I can contribute from the start of a strategy to development, the delivery, and finally the sustainment of a system. This enables me to do more within the private space sector which excites me.”

Tori hopes to inspire more young women to study engineering, and prove to those who might be interested in learning engineering after studying another discipline that systems engineering is an option.

“I never thought that I was capable of studying engineering or that it was a path for me, but I have proved to both myself and hopefully other young women that you can do it and you have a part to play in the exciting area of engineering,” Tori said.

“When it starts to get hard having someone or something who inspires you is really key to reminding yourself as to why you are doing what you are doing.

“My inspiration is Katherine Bennell-Pegg. Knowing her journey, what she has achieved and what she could do in the future is my guiding light in all of this.”

Katherine Bennell-Pegg is Australia’s Astronaut Candidate, a space systems engineer, and is the first person to ever be trained as an astronaut under the Australian flag. Katherine signed off on Tori undertaking the Master of Systems Engineering when Katherine was Director of Space Technology at the Australian Space Agency, enabling Tori to manage both work and study.

Tori is not only grateful to Katherine and her colleagues, but also to her family, partner, and friends for their enduring love and providing chocolate when required throughout her study. Having a strong support system was key for Tori’s success.