Nijin Thykkathu
31 Oct 2018



Software Developer for the Space Physics Operations Division​


​​​​​​​​Nijin Thykkathu​ in his current role as ​​Software Developer for the Space Physics Operations Division​


How did you get into your job?

I always knew that I wanted to work in a software related industry. I applied for this job when I was in my final year. I came across RAL Space through the GradCracker website, but I had never heard about them before and didn't know what they did. When I came to my interview I was so intrigued by the science and projects that were going on at RAL Space. That's when I decided I needed to put all my effort into getting this job. Although I was interested in space and astronomy when I was younger, I never thought I'd actually work in this industry- it was all really coincidence. Since I've started working here, I've learnt a lot and it's a great place to work.

What is your role?

I work as an Astronomy Oriented Software Developer for RAL Space. The long-term project I am working on at the moment is called the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which is a mega-science project and an international effort to build the world's largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre of collecting area. I am part of a UK Science Data Processor (UK SDP). The SKA-SDP element is focused on the design of the computing hardware platforms, software, and algorithms needed to process raw data from the telescopes and converting this into usable data for scientists. I am now the technical lead for RAL Space through bridging into construction. As such, I continuously collaborate with the technical leads from Oxford University, Cambridge University and the SKA Office (Jodrell Bank). In SKA, we operate in a SAFe agile environment. SAFe advocates strong communication within and between teams. I am part of a team consisting of an agile team of software developers and astronomers from RAL, Oxford, and Cambridge and am involved in developing various components of the system.

What's the best thing about your job?

Knowing that some of the systems I am involved in developing or designing will be part of the world's largest radio telescopes or satellites. It gives me what I feel is the best job satisfaction I will ever get. I always thought I would just be one of those people who sit in an office and just do a job and that's what my life is going to be. But now I feel like the work I do is going to be used in science and bring the next best technology or have the next biggest findings in our lifetime.

Why is it important you do what you do?

The role of a developer is to help scientists bring their visions and ideas to life. Technology is changing and there's always a more rapidly growing need for faster systems and real-time results. Within that need it's my responsibility to be able to develop those systems for scientists so they have the technology they need to gather new information about our universe.

What advice would you give to people looking for a job in your industry?

Show passion in your area and demonstrate that you are someone who is willing to learn, develop new skills and enjoy being challenged. Be someone who can collaborate with other people, other engineers and other scientists. If you have those skills, you're going to be perfect in this industry.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your younger self now?

Study what you are interested in, be more confident, never doubt yourself and don't have any regrets!​


2014 - The year I graduated

The Year I began working at RAL Space.jpg

2014 - The year I joined RAL Space

The Year I got the chance to go on the top of one of the radio telescopes.jpg

​2018 - ​The year I went away for a summer school on radio astronomy in New Mexico, 

USA and got the chance to go on top of one of the radio telescopes​



2020 - The year I went for SKA Meeting in Perth, Australia and got a chance to visit 

Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

Contact: RAL Space Enquiries