The ESAC Trainee Project has been developing and recruiting young student scientists and engineers (amongst others) for a number of years, and takes place at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), near Madrid. Each trainee participates in a project which contributes to various astronomical and planetary missions, such as Gaia, Herschel, Integral, ISO, Mars Express, Rosetta, SMOS, Venus Express and XMM-Newton, plus the Virtual Observatory (VO) and Space Situational Awareness (SSA) projects. The duration of each project is between a minimum of three months to a maximum of six months. To qualify to be an ESAC Trainee you must be a national of one of the ESA Member States or its cooperating states, and studying your Bachelors degree, or be in the first half of your Masters course, at any university or institute (all are welcome).
ESAC trainees, as of now, have been from the following universities:
| ||Universidad Complutense de Madrid; Universidad Autónoma de Madrid; Universidad Politécnica de Madrid; Universidad de Alcalá; Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio; Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona; Universidad de Barcelona; Universidad de La Laguna; Universidad de Sevilla; Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca; Universidad de Valencia; Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña; Universidad Politécnica de Valencia; Universidad de Vigo; Universidad de Zaragoza. |
| ||Technische Universität Wien. |
| ||University of Ghent. |
| ||Ecole Centrale de Nantes; ENSEIRB-MATMECA, Bordeaux; Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace, Toulouse; Observatoire de Paris; Universitè Catholique de Lille; Universitè de Paris. |
| ||Julius-Maximilians University of Würzburg; Technical University of Aachen; Technical University of Dresden; University of Bonn; University of Erlangen-Nuremberg; University of Heidelberg; University of Osnabrück; University of Stuttgart; University of Tübingen. |
| ||National Technical University of Athens; Technical Educational Institute of Crete. |
| ||Trinity College Dublin; University College Cork; University College Dublin. |
| ||Politecnico di Milano; Università degli Studi di Lecce; Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca; Università degli Studi Roma Tre; Università degli Studi di Torino. |
| ||AGH University of Science and Technology, Krakow; University of Technology, Wroclaw. |
| ||Techinical University of Cluj-Napoca. |
| ||Institute of Technology, Linköping. |
| ||ETH Zurich. |
| ||Universiteit Utrecht. |
| ||Cranfield University; The Open University; University College London; University of Durham; University of Leeds; University of Leicester; University of Manchester; University of Warwick. |
| ||University of California, Santa Cruz (trainee with Spanish nationality). |
and in the past from the ESA Young Graduate Trainee Programme.
The project is supervised by tutors at ESAC and comprised of students from the following areas:
- The pre-graduate program for Spanish students from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), which every year allows students from the UCM to undertake a traineeship at ESAC and obtain credits towards their undergraduate degree. As of 2007, this also includes a similar scheme with the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM).
- The ESA internship trainee programme.
To get the projects started, a "First definition" and the "First steps and goals" are defined by the tutor as an initial guideline. The "First definition" is then refined and extended by the trainee to a real project definition after the first few weeks. The "First steps and goals" are transformed into a "Ttmeline" for the project by the trainee, supervised by the tutor. This strategy allows the trainee to start from the outset on a well-defined project, which is highly important for projects on short time-scales. It also allows the trainee to redefine and structure the project after a short period of introduction and adjustment. The concept of a realistic timeline also allows room for contingencies. After successful completion of the work, a self-assessment and review enable the trainee to get a first impression of the structure of project work, and to develop skills for the future regarding projects set up on a similar basis.
The ESAC Trainee Project is part of the ESA Internship programme and is organised and funded by the ESAC HR Service and the Science Operations Department, in collaboration with the ESAC Faculty and the ESA Education Office.