Helena Mainka comes from Cologne, Germany. She got her bachelor's degree in Aviation Engineering at ZHAW School of Engineering in Winterthur, Switzerland. She has passion to everything related to being outdoors (Hiking, Kayaking, Camping, Climbing, Biking, Skiing), Gliding, Cafés and Fika, Languages, Taekwondo-Do.
What made you choose KTH, Stockholm and Sweden?
KTH offers a unique Master´s programme in Aerospace Engineering with interesting and promising courses and four different tracks to choose from. It is known worldwide for being one of the best technical universities in Europe, and it is also appreciated and valued by aerospace companies.
Stockholm is one the best cities I could wish for regarding my studies. I was always attracted by the North, and I am inspired by the vibrant city in the middle of wonderful nature.
What do you like most about KTH?
The enormous amount of modern study facilities and the library in combination with the big courtyard on the campus and the surrounding forest represent an ideal learning environment. The courses include lectures, projects, and workshops and give me the chance to immerse myself in the topic. If I need to get my head into something else for a while, I can choose to join one of an incredible number of clubs and activities for students.
What are your impressions of Stockholm and Sweden?
Stockholm and Sweden in general provide a very high standard of living. The beautiful city located on islands combines lakes and the sea and surrounding nature with a lot of different cultural events. For a big city, the feeling is rather laid-back. There are many nice coffee places that invite one for some fika after coming back from a kayak trip in the Archipelago.
What is your best memory from your time at KTH so far?
I was very impressed by the opportunity to talk to astronauts. The programme director and Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang together with the American astronaut William Shepherd shared their experiences in space and giving the students the opportunity to ask questions. This was very fascinating and motivating as well for my studies!
Are there any differences between studying at KTH and your home university?
Back in Germany and Switzerland I am used to addressing the professors with their full title and surname. Here in Sweden we are allowed to address the professors with their first name. This makes the student-lecturer relationship more personal, and the barrier to asking questions and communicating is a lot lower, supporting any discussions that might arise.
A big difference is the division of the semester into two periods. This way, final exams take place every six weeks. As a result, the workload is constantly very high, giving the feeling of being in a permanent exam period.
What would you like to say to students thinking of choosing KTH for master’s studies?
If you are already thinking about choosing the programme, you should take this unique opportunity! I can highly recommend choosing this interesting and inspiring journey for two years.
What do you see as the most significant aspects of your programme?
The four tracks of Systems Engineering, Space Engineering, Lightweight Structures, and Aeronautics give the opportunity to specialise in a particular field of interest. The academic environment of skilled professors, lecturers, and fellow students inspires one to gain more knowledge about the fascinating field of Aerospace Engineering.
Are you taking part in any student activities?
Yes! Coming to KTH I directly joined the KTH Outdoor Club. We organise a lot of events like kayaking, hiking, and outdoor climbing for all KTH students. During the activities you get to know your fellow students and new friends, your city, and its surroundings, while being active and experiencing new sports.
Do you have a dream job after graduating from KTH?
My dream is to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly aviation and space industry. Either through lightweight structures or efficient propulsion systems.