Astronaut candidate's profile

The candidates participating in the astronaut selection process all have unique journeys and outstanding qualities and skills. You can read their remarkable profiles here.

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Smith, Andrew

Andrew Smith

Where were you born?
Harrowsmith, Ontario, Canada

Where do you currently live?
Hampton, Ontario, Canada

Education

  • Bachelor's, mathematics & engineering – Queen's University
  • Master's, electrical engineering – Queen's University
  • Ph.D., aeronautics & astronautics (completed 2017) – Stanford University

What is your current job?

Product development and engineering manager, Gumstix Research Canada - I supervise all product development, support and engineering (software and hardware) relating to Gumstix products. Approximately half of my time is dedicated to managing the engineering team. The rest of my time is dedicated to hands-on software and hardware engineering. This typically includes designing new circuit boards, testing new products, evaluating potential products, creating product tutorials and demonstrations, and customer support.

Why do you want to become an astronaut?

I am an engineer at heart. I love to take things apart and figure out how they work so that I can reassemble them and develop ways to improve them, from a functional or efficiency perspective. Engineering is going to play a significant role in the next phase of space exploration. I want to be part of the team that conducts the research; develops, tests and evaluates new technology; and diagnoses the problems as they occur. I am excited to support and contribute to this effort from the ground, but my dream is to do this from space.

What motivated you to study in your field?

Engineering seemed like an obvious choice given my interest in mechanical and electrical things. I always loved robotics because it incorporates both hardware and software. Robotics allows me to build things with my hands and then program them to do something. How cool is that? Lately I've had the opportunity to work with autonomous vehicles (drones). Drones have come so far so quickly, and I'm excited to see where they go in the future.

Think back to a teacher who had a positive impact on your life. What did she/he do to influence you?

I'll be honest: English was not my favourite subject in school. But I'll never forget a day in my Grade 12 English class with Mr. Sam Miller at Sydenham High School. Mr. Miller started the class by apologizing for the previous day's class, saying that he had been mentally distracted and hadn't given the class its due attention. He went on to say that he had learned from his mistakes and would strive to be better. I will always remember that because it showed me that no matter our age or profession, we are always able to learn and improve.

What do you like best about your job?

I love the variety that my job brings. One day I'm working on a miniature computer to precisely dispense butter on bread, and the next I'm writing software to control a drone bouncing around a virtual cube. Since much of our business is customer-based microcomputer designs, we receive requests to use the newest, smallest, fastest computers and sensors. I enjoy learning about new products and finding ways to incorporate them into our designs. There are so many interesting projects out there and opportunities to try new things. That's the best part of my job.

Which living person do you most admire? OR Who are your heroes in real life?

Elon Musk. He is an incredible innovator and visionary. The contributions he has made and the impact he has had on the automotive and space industries in such a short time are truly amazing.

What is your favourite sci-fi movie?

Explorers (1985). What kid hasn't dreamed of making their own spaceship and travelling into space?

What is your motto?

You're never too old to learn or too young to teach.

What is the best career advice you've ever received?

What is your most treasured possession?

What is your favourite place on Earth?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

What is your favourite book?

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