Working with “the most powerful force in our tiny part of the Universe”

The cutting-edge technology that Solar MEMS´applies to its high-precision solar sensors is widely used in space by the main international organizations in the sector, such as the European Space Agency. These remarkable achievements were only made possible by relying on a team of such highly motivated and qualified experts as Manuel Rodríguez, the CTO of Solar MEMS. We interviewed him to learn more about him, his role in the company and his view of the future of solar sensors, both on our planet and off it.

About Manuel Rodríguez

What is a normal day like for you, as chief technical officer of Solar MEMS?

First thing in the morning, saying hello to my colleagues in the office. It is very important keeping a good mood and taking care of all your team, because Solar MEMS is our team, not only our products. Then I review the emails to ensure there are no questions or inquiries from possible customers, and finally a full review of all pending tasks and project schedules, because we always have new things ongoing.

What is the best thing about working in Solar MEMS?

The team.We keep a good relation between all of us, and we all respect each other, so teamwork is easy, smooth, and efficient.

On the other hand, I have loved astronomy and space since I was a child, so working on space industry is like a dream. I still remember when my parents gave me a telescope when I was 12 but then I did not know anything about that. It was like a new world, and it is in fact the “new frontier”.

What qualities do you need to become the technology manager of a company that is making history?

You need to know very well two things: your technology and your team. Because you will discuss with customers and suppliers about your technology, to do new things and to sell new products, but you need to know in your team who can give you what you need every time, because you are a manager but you are a not a genius about everything. You need a team of people with different skills and attitude so you can face any challenge.

What do you most value in your team?

The good relation between all of us. This is a critical aspect of a small team.

Solar sensors meeting

About Solar MEMS

Which fields will Solar MEMS technology mainly be used in?

This is a question not so easy to answer.

Sun is unique, it is the most powerful energy source in our small space in the Universe, and it is always there, as a lighthouse in the darkness. And only sun sensors can find it to tell you where it is. This is a simple aspect, but very important because of what Sun means for human being.

Nowadays, uses of sun sensors are well known, but where we will go in the future? I have read about impressive solar power plants working in Space as any solar power plants on Earth, so such thing would need sun sensor technology and solar tracking systems. Or leading spaceships propelled by Sun energy pushing on a huge sail to travel through Space to new Stars and new Systems. Future is always unknown but inspiring, so I think our technology will be very important because Space and Sun will be very important.

What everyday uses will Solar MEMS technology have?

Uses of our technology are not observable, but they are there, and many things are working fine because our technology is there.

Satellites are working in Space because sun sensor technology allowed them to point to the Sun as the main reference in orbit, and to get the maximum energy from it. Solar panels can be oriented as sunflowers to maximize the harvested energy from what we receive from the Sun.

Autonomous vehicles and rockets can follow where the Sun is to find their way. Sun rays can be detected to darken window glasses in a building, so people will find it more comfortable.

And finally I don’t want to forget a technology on which we were working with the University of Seville and the main owners of Solar MEMS (José Manuel Quero and Juan García), who are the minds behind the company, which is based on sun sensors and mirrors to point sun rays where we want, for example to illuminate a dark courtyard in a building or an underground metro station.

What does Solar MEMS offer that other solar sensor companies do not?

We offer three main things, very simple and very important in any technological market nowadays:

  • Size because our sun sensors are very small respect to more traditional technology.
  • Low cost because our technology allows us to keep it low and offer good prices to our customers.
  • And an efficient support to our customers: fast response when they need whatever, open mind for developing new solutions, clarity and honesty when working together, and the most important thing is that we always do our best.

What new projects is Solar MEMS working on now?

You want to know our secrets…

Well, this is simple. We have three fields.

First covers development of new sensors, like Star Trackers or Horizon Sensors, in fact we expect to put our first Star Tracker in orbit very soon in a special satellite of ESA. Second cover development of new technologies of sun sensors, but I can only say that we are doing them smaller, more intelligent, more resistant, and disruptive! And finally, we are studying new fields like optical equipment to help our customers when working with our sun sensors and new technologies to control drones.

How can Solar MEMS technology protect the environment?

We protect the environment if we avoid using other contaminant technologies like coal or oil, so we have always supported our customers when developing new technologies for energy harvesting like solar panels, stirling engine, parabolic trough, concentrator photovoltaics, etc. Our technology is very important in all those models because of the necessary solar tracking, and we have sold our products to many universities and research projects all around the world during last years to develop these technologies, to protect the environment and our single planet.

If you want to know us better, click here, and meet our Team. You might also contact us if you want to reach us out.

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