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Helping Canadians to innovate
March 22, 2017
Steeve Montminy holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
We may not realize it, but space exploration has led to a number of significant technological advances, including the insulin pump, magnetic resonance imaging, automotive airbags, cordless tools, and much more. However, like Canada, most countries do not have the economic means to finance large-scale space missions like those launched by NASA. Fortunately, there are other solutions. We can test the potential of new technologies at a “sub-orbital” level, sharing the costs with our partners. This is the type of project that is being led by Steeve Montminy, who holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and works for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
Working in collaboration with universities and other countries
In his capacity as a Sub-Orbital Test Manager, Steeve plans out the work for a team of engineers and technicians who help Canadian universities and companies to test and validate their new technologies, and to carry out their testing at altitudes of up to 150 km. By way of example, Steeve oversees the Stratos program, which uses stratospheric balloons to assess the potential of new technologies. Within the context of this program, which was launched by the CSA and the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES ‒ National Centre for Space Studies) in 2011, Canada provides a launching pad for the European agency.
How does the Master’s degree fit into it all?
“My Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering enabled me to manage my first project, which involved designing a hopping robot for exploration on Mars”, he recalls. If it wasn’t for that Master’s project, which he completed while he was working, he would not have followed the path that led him to be manager of this project. Even if the hopping robot never gets to Mars, the primary mechanism that it uses will have inspired the development of related technologies. In addition, as soon as he earned his Master’s degree, Steeve was given the opportunity to hold a high-level position at the CSA. Just a coincidence? No one can say for sure.
Off the cuff
What do you look for in an employee?
Openness, creativity, flexibility and adaptability. The development cycle for our products is short, which means that we are usually working on multiple projects. Therefore, we must be able to adapt quickly.
In your opinion, what makes an employee stand out?
Someone who is not hesitant to ask questions, who is willing to think outside of the established limits, and who is able to communicate and work as part of a team.
What is a Master’s degree worth on the job market?
In my case, it allowed me to develop the ability to manage projects, which I would not have been able to do otherwise. It also helped me land my first promotion, and gave me a greater degree of self-confidence.
What motivates you?
The tangible aspect of the projects. That is what I love about my current work. The development cycle for products is shorter than in the satellite sector, for example, where you can spend years working on the same project.
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