Canadian Space Agency
Type: Career Profile
Computer Science, Math, Physics, Space Science, Space exploration, Technology & Engineering
One of the things that motivates me is that I am working on projects that will be going into space (!) and is going to be useful to Canadians. When I worked as a robotics instructor, I was helping people learn how to use robotics in a micro-gravity environment. Today, telecommanding of robotic arms is used for medical treatment of remote patients who may not have access to medical professionals. The RADARSAT Constellation Mission provides near real time imagery of Canada. This can be used to detect ships, help with disaster recovery like flooding, earthquakes, track oil spills, and so much more.
Another aspect I like is working in a team. It takes so many people to make this work. And not one person knows everything about the project, so we have to work together. It can be a challenge at times, but the outcome is so worth it.
In high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I stuck with Maths and Sciences because I liked it and because it would provide many opportunities. I am so glad I did. In high school, I didn't even know Canada had a space agency. In university, I was studying Electrical Engineering, leaning toward digital electronics because that was big at the time. Before I graduated, I was flown to a job interview in Silicone Valley, California. This was the big thing at the time, but people who worked there practically lived at their jobs, and that didn't interest me. It was through my coop work terms in university that I learned about the CSA. I knew I wanted to work there.
My first permanent job at the CSA was in an Operations environment. After 8 years there, I decided I wanted to go into Project Management because I wanted to experience the earlier phases of a project. I wanted to be at the stage where decisions are made on the scope, requirements, design and implementation of the project. My parents influenced my without pushing or forcing. They opened my eyes to stay in STEM since the opportunities were endless. However, I didn't have a lot of career guidance which I found challenging. Nowadays, people are more connecting making this much more possible. We all experience challenges or failures, but rather than dwelling on them, you move on and accept the new path that is in front of you.
It takes many different people and specialties to launch something into space. Our teams are so diverse which makes them strong. If you are interested in this area, keep studying something you like, and get experience in team projects since working well in a team is so important.
It is so important to have a life outside of work. I have a family, and so I am very involved in their activities. I volunteered for over 8 years on the governing board of my children's subsidized daycare. I now volunteer as an assistant on the ice during my daughter's ringette practices (even though I never played ringette). I learned to play hockey less than 2 years ago (I was never a strong skater). I am also active in my own sports and have done some neat long-distance running excursions with some friends and colleagues. I like to go out with friends. I play piano to relax.
I work on very large projects that involve many different types of expertise. For example, as project management engineer for the Ground Segment portion of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, I made sure that the product met the requirements set at the beginning of the project. I also made sure that it could interface with the different external components (such as antennas and communications lines), and met the security requirements set by the government of Canada. This involved much interaction with many different people.
Sometimes, I will spend my day in meetings to track status of a project, discuss issues, actions and responsibilities. In other words, I make sure the work is being done or will be done. My engineering background helps me to understand the project, its requirements, and design. It also allows me to talk with and understand the different technical specialists.
We problem solve all the time. When there is an issue or one small change to a part of the project, we need to be able to understand the impact to all of the different parts of the project. If there is an impact, we need to determine how this will affect the users. We get to think outside of the box to propose workarounds, solutions, etc. The team I work with is bilingual, so our meetings are often in either or both languages, depending on who is in the room. Project documents are mostly in English, but formal documents for the public need to be in both languages.
When I was
- Home Economics
- Foods & Nutrition
- Physical Education/Health
- Moral & Religious Education
- Liked helping people
- Played on a sports team
- Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
- Liked being given specific instructions
- Was really creative
- Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
- Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do
- Learned best “by doing”