Empowering all Women, in Space and on Earth

WIA-Europe Grants & Awards Winners 2024

Women in Aerospace Europe would like to congratulate the following winners of the WIA-Europe 2024 Grants and Awards!

WIA-Europe is devoted to providing support to its members through a variety of initiatives that strive to encourage upcoming talent and to support professionals dedicated to growing a gender-balanced aerospace community and who look to advance the aerospace industry as a whole. 

The WIA-Europe Awards & Grants program is designed to support upcoming talent, both young professionals and students alike.

Winner of the Student Conference Grant 2024: Ilenia Bruseghello

Ilenia Bruseghello, Intern in the Defence, Space, and Security Program at the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI). With the financial support from WIA-Europe Ilenia will attend the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2024, where she will present her paper titled “Regulatory frameworks for lunar resources exploitation and insights from deep sea mining practices.” Ilenia is the main author of this paper and a co-author of two additional accepted papers.

Ilenia Bruseghello is a former cadet of the Italian Navy with three years of experience in the military field. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and International Relations from Sapienza University of Rome and is currently pursuing an Erasmus Mundus Joint International Master’s in Security, Intelligence, and Strategic Studies, jointly awarded by the University of Glasgow, Dublin City University, and Charles University in Prague. As a NATO Public Diplomacy Division Grantee, Ilenia has developed significant experience in project management and policy development. Ilenia is an IAEA Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow and her primary research areas include space security, arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. She served as a Nuclear Risk Research Fellow at the Existential Risk Alliance, focusing on space warfare, space policy, and nuclear risks. Additionally, she has been a Project Assistant for the Space Security Program at the Prague Security Studies Institute, where she conducted in-depth research and analysis on space security topics and contributed to organizing significant events and workshops. Ilenia has presented her work at prestigious institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Cambridge. An active member of Women in Aerospace Europe, she is also a mentee in the Space Security Advisory Council (SGAC) Mentorship Programme and the Young Women in Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Mentorship Program.

Winner of the Inspirational Award 2024: Dr. Estel Blay

Dr. Estel Blay, Senior Business Development Manager at GlobalTrust (SSC Group), for her work with the Hypatia Mars Association. Dr. Estel Blay, as the Scientist and Health and Safety Officer of the Hypatia II mission, will support the scientific research and well-being of the crew. One of her key projects involves Innovations in Mitigating Dust Challenges for Martian Solar Panels. The financial support from WIA-Europe will cover expenses such as accommodation, training, and equipment for Dr. Estel Blay’s participation in the Hypatia II mission at the Mars Desert Research Station in 2025. She will share her experiences to inspire other women to pursue careers in science and technology.

Project Description: Hypatia Mars

The Hypatia Mars Association is dedicated to advancing Martian research and outreach, promoting space exploration, and fostering scientific vocations, especially among girls and young women. The initiative, which began on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11th, 2021, is driven by three core objectives:

  • Advancing research excellence in space exploration.
  • Engaging society through science and outreach activities.
  • Promoting female role models in STE(A)M careers to inspire the next generation.

Dr. Estel Blay is a Senior Business Development Manager at GlobalTrust Ltd., with over 14 years of experience as an aerospace engineer in the UK, Spain, and the USA. She specialises in leveraging satellite technology to help organisations worldwide develop and implement sustainability strategies, ensuring these practices are integral to future decision-making.

In her current role, Dr. Blay develops and manages commercial strategies, establishes new market presences, and oversees stakeholder management to foster sustainable growth. Previously, she was Head of the Extractive Industries Programme at the Satellite Applications Catapult, LATAM Strategy Lead, and Researcher and Teaching Assistant at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and the University of Utah.

Dr. Blay holds a PhD in Aerospace Science and Technology from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, a Master’s in Aerospace Science and Technology, and a BEng in Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering. She is an active member of Women in Aerospace Europe – Barcelona and serves as the Scientist and Health and Safety Officer for the Hypatia II mission from the Hypatia Mars Association, an organisation dedicated to advancing Martian research and outreach, promoting space exploration, and fostering scientific vocations, especially among girls and young women.

Selected after a competitive process for the Hypatia II mission, Dr. Blay will support scientific research and ensure crew well-being. She will oversee experiments focused on addressing the dust challenges for Martian solar panels, exploring robotic cleaning systems, electrodynamic shield technology, and self-cleaning coatings to maintain solar panel efficiency on Mars. Passionate about science outreach, Dr. Blay is also creating an outreach project to explore energy sources on Earth and in space, demonstrating renewable energy applications and inspiring young minds about science and sustainability. The WIA-Europe Inspirational Award will support her participation in the Hypatia II mission at the Mars Desert Research Station in February 2025

WIA-Europe would like to thank everyone who sent forward a Grants and Awards application. We greatly appreciate your participation and await the 2025 cycle!

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