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Astrophysicist wins global award for supporting ESA in a major educational facility for students

Published: 16 Apr 2020

Michel Breitfellner, Serco Contract Manager working at the European Space Agency (ESA) in the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) in Madrid,  has been recognised by Serco with a Global Award for his support to ESA during the creation on of an astronomy-focussed educational facility for young people.

Michel is leading a service contract to ESA, providing support to a facility that helps inspire school and university students on the themes of astronomy and space. The ESA-run programme is called CESAR (Cooperation through Education in Science and Astronomy Research) and was created in 2012. The objective of the CESAR initiative is to provide students from European secondary schools and universities with hands-on experience in astronomy in general, with a specific emphasis on radio and optical astronomy.

Michel and other Serco engineers are supporting ESA’s work bringing local school groups to the site, where together with ESA engineers and scientists, contribute with interactive demonstrations and seminars.

Michel Breitfellner said about the initiative: “It is a privilege to share knowledge with the new generation and to hopefully awaken their curiosity about astronomy research. I am grateful for the trust the European Space Agency and other organisations have put in the project”

Michel’s efforts supporting ESA on the CESAR programme have been crucial in turning this into an project that is now an internationally recognised example of innovation. The initiative gained widespread support across the space sector and backing from the local government education authorities and other institutional partners, such as INTA and ISDEFE, which partnered with ESA to support the programme. Michel and some members of his team are now trusted by ESA to provide service support to the CESAR initiative on a full time basis.

Michel was presented with his award by Serco Chief Executive Rupert Soames at an event in London marking the company’s Europe winners of its Global Pulse wards. The awards celebrate employees from among Serco’s 50 000 strong team around the world who have done extraordinary things for their colleagues, customers or communities.