Not many people can say their work is used in outer space. But Audrey Liard Cloup can.
In fact, she won an award for her work on custom gratings. Those gratings were used for a research mission on a satellite that orbits the Earth and monitors its carbon dioxide levels.
When she was young, her parents thought that she would be an architect. While playing, she often constructed little houses. Now she’s in another part of construction - nanostructure building.
Audrey, spurred on by her general affinity to physics, is a production manager for custom gratings manufacturing for HORIBA FRANCE SAS in Palaiseau, outside of Paris. She grew up near Paris and still lives there.
“I was good in math and physics, but I really began to like electromagnetic physics during my preparation before engineering school – in higher school preparatory classes,” she said. “I remember the demonstration of the mirage phenomenon and I think it led me to choose optical studies after that.”
After high school and higher school preparatory classes, she studied at the Institute of Optics near Paris, called the Institut d’Optique Graduate School, where she received her engineering diploma with an optical calculations accreditation.
As the production manager for the custom gratings manufacturing, Audrey organizes the manufacture of these special optical pieces. The pieces are made on demand. She also performs quality control, maintaining vigilance over process performance.
A diffraction grating is a set of equally spaced, narrow, parallel surfaces. A grating disperses light of different wavelengths to give, for any wavelength, a narrow fringe. This allows precise spectroscopy.
As a production manager, Audrey deals with a worldwide network of suppliers of state-of-the-art optics in the U.S., Japan, Germany, and other countries. She said technical exchanges about extremely tight specifications with foreign partners can be a challenge. Yet, Audrey has built long-term relationships with several of these partners.
Audrey manages complete projects from a feasibility study, to costing, and manufacturing of the gratings. She has led some high profile projects to completion. In one, her team received an award from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for high performance gratings delivered for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite.
It’s an Earth-orbiting mission sponsored by NASA. The observatory includes three high-resolution grating spectrometers. The observatory’s mission is to accurately measure the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere, in order to evaluate the effect of human activity on our climate and global warming.
NASA monitors carbon dioxide in discreet locations on the Earth’s surface, she said. As only half of the known carbon dioxide levels are currently detected, and real-time measurements every 16 hours across the whole planet with the observatory are intended to help scientists understand the natural processes of the carbon dioxide cycle.
Such projects, with both scientific and environmental aspects, motivate Audrey.
Beyond the technical challenges, the space flight projects include hard deadlines such as rocket launch dates. One of the key roles Audrey plays is to keep up with production plans despite technical issues.
Similarly, Audrey was part of the team who produced and delivered the first meter size gratings for ELI-NP, (Extreme Light Infrastructure Nuclear Physics), the EU High intensity Laser Research Center in Romania, which is the first facility in the world expected to compress 10PW pulses.
Audrey competes in a field that features more men than women. But that didn’t have an effect on her.
Less than 20 percent of the students at her engineering school were women. Yet she never felt any gender discrimination. And she didn’t mind being in the minority – she’s even still friends with some of her classmates.
Do you have any questions or requests? Use this form to contact our specialists.