Astronaut candidate's profile
What is your current job?
Program manager / product line manager for bomb disposal robots, Med-Eng - I work for a defence company called Med-Eng developing all kinds of interesting equipment like bomb suits, robots, and specialized tools to support Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operators. The day-to-day is extremely varied, but my main task is interfacing between government defence organizations like the Department of National Defence; our internal engineering, operations, and sales teams; and our subcontractors from around the world. I ensure technical and non-technical teams collaborate effectively in developing the next-generation robotic platforms.
Why do you want to become an astronaut?
I have wanted to be an astronaut ever since I visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida when I was six years old and went home to fire model rockets with my dad. There is something utterly captivating about an adventure that starts on the end of a rocket. Life as an astronaut aligns perfectly with my passions for exploration, science, engineering, travel (to the extreme!), photography, educational outreach, international collaboration… the list goes on! No other job can even come close!
What motivated you to study in your field?
I've always known I wanted to work in a STEM field and when I was considering undergraduate programs, it was a real toss-up between physics and engineering. The latter won out for me because I have always really enjoyed the applied nature of engineering. As far as specializing in mechanical, I felt this would lead well toward a career in aerospace and defence and offer a wide variety of job prospects in those fields. Looking back at where this has led me so far in my career, it was the right decision.
Think back to a teacher who had a positive impact on your life. What did she/he do to influence you?
One of the best teachers I ever had was Dr. Peter Flynn at the University of Alberta. Although he was a chemical engineer by training, I remember him most for how he taught the softer subject of managing people. He was a truly inspiring person to listen to and did an amazing job driving home a point that is often overlooked in STEM education: that interpersonal skills and understanding motivation are absolutely essential to success once you're in the real world. To this day I still think "WWPD" (What Would Peter Do?) when I'm faced with tricky personnel conflicts.
What do you like best about your job?
Every product we develop at Med-Eng and the exhaustive analysis and testing we conduct to validate performance directly serve to save people's lives. We actually maintain a "Saves Club" register, which is a list of people throughout the world who have survived a lethal event such as an IED explosion and whose survival can be directly attributed to the equipment we developed. It is both a very inspiring and very humbling feeling to be part of a team with such a demonstrated positive impact.
Which living person do you most admire? OR Who are your heroes in real life?
Without a doubt, my father. He was a career scientist with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and transferred his passions for science and engineering down to me. He has accomplished some incredible things throughout his career and has always maintained the strongest moral compass of anyone I've ever met. He did an amazing job raising three kids after we lost my mother to illness, and I owe so much of my own success to him.
What is your favourite sci-fi movie?
I'll take Serenity any day (and Firefly, the TV series it's based on)!
What is your motto?
This is a tricky one. I don't know that I have a single motto but "evidence-based decision making" ranks very high for me. I have also found real inspiration in tough times with the motto "smooth seas never made a skilled sailor."
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