Meet our latest brain crush Natalie Panek, a STEM rock star working as a robotic operator and aerospace engineer at MDA Space Missions in Canada. Among countless other achievements, this accomplished Woman You Should Know drove a solar-powered car across North America, co-authored papers on flames burning in microgravity and repairing broken satellites in space, has a pilot’s license, and skydived with Korea’s first Astronaut (a woman). She’s also a spirited advocate for encouraging women to take risks and dive head-on into challenging careers. We should also probably mention… she is ONLY 28 years old!
“I have a voice and I have experiences that when merged, can be a catalyst for inspiring the next generation of women to become game-changers.”
For as long as Natalie can remember, she has wanted to travel to space. So pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) was a no brainer… sort of a required skill set to go exploring beyond the boundaries of Earth.
But aside from the tactical reasons to go the STEM route, Natalie has always been an adventurous, get her hands dirty, detail oriented kind of gal. So both mechanical and aerospace engineering, which involve playing with technology through the entire life-cycle of a program from developing operational concepts to integration and testing, seemed like a natural fit.
Fortifying her own inclination toward this subject matter was the influence of her high school physics teacher whom she credits with helping her recognize the power and value of an engineering career.
With all signs pointing in that direction, Natalie took the plunge into the STEM pool and has been making her mark in the aerospace industry as a woman and as an engineer, ever since.