Marc Oort - Systems Engineer

“Working at Airbus DS NL is like being a character in an adventure story.”

When Marc Oort obtained his doctorate in the mid-80s, another academic assignment was the logical next step. But because his wife became pregnant at around the same time, his plans changed. “Had I wanted to stay in academia, I’d have had to travel the world over. And I didn’t want that with a small child in our lives. Instead, I found myself working here 31 years ago, after a tip from an ex-colleague, and I’ve never regretted the move for a single moment.


Then and now
“I started here when we were still called Fokker Ruimtevaart. In the late 1990s, we became independent and were eventually absorbed into the large Airbus organisation. Our work hasn’t changed very much in essence, although the way we work has, of course. I remember having to share a computer with three others! We even had a rota system for who could use it when. Now, everybody has one. Also, much more of what we do is now documented and archived.”


“I currently work as a systems engineer on aerospace projects that can run for up to five years. They vary from the construction of solar arrays to making instruments with which to measure air quality in space. We also work regularly on tracking systems that can very precisely keep equipment pointed at a particular star or galaxy. Approximately 300 people work at Airbus DS NL, so we’re not very big. It makes it easy to find your colleagues and promotes personal interaction. I like working in an environment with short lines like that.”


“You soon notice here that everybody is very focused on solving problems. If you were to ask my kids, they’d tell you that I work for a club of nerds, ha-ha! I see it more as a club of very passionate people, possessed by the technology side of things and aerospace, which I must admit isn’t your everyday ball game. Even though I’ve been here such a long time, every day to me feels like I’m a character in a boys’ book.


Space for innovation
“Clearly, the space industry has become increasingly commercial in recent years. I wasn’t used to that. Nevertheless, I see us as Airbus adapting to the new situation very well. Our focus is trained more on the outside world; we monitor market developments and keep an eye on what others in our business are doing. And there’s space for innovation. Staff are encouraged to take the initiative to put forward their own ideas and to flesh them out. It’s a very good way to improve our products.”


“Not long ago, Airbus was an organisation where you’d meet very few young people. That’s no longer so. We’re seeing increasing numbers of younger people join us and that’s lent the company a whole new dynamic. Furthermore, it feels good to know that when the time comes, there will be young colleagues ready to take over my position. And I find it very important that the knowledge the elders carry with them is properly passed down to the next generation. After all, the next generation is Airbus’ future.



About Airbus DS NL

Over 300 professionals with a great passion for technology work every day at Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands at the limits of what is possible in one of the most challenging industries in the world: Space.

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Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands B.V.

Postbus 32070
2303 DB Leiden
+31 (0)71-5245000