Marie Gisèle Munyaneza – Operations Engineer, On-Orbit Science
- Quote: Dare to follow your instincts. The passion associated with regular work will open the doors to your best achievements.
- Education: Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering (specialization in avionics); master's degree in business administration
- Job title: Operations Engineer, On-Orbit Science
- Employer: Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
- CSA projects: Bio-Monitor, Vection study, Space Apps Challenge.
What is unique about your job?
Working directly with the astronauts on the International Space Station! This puts us in a privileged position to see the importance of the scientific experiments that astronauts perform on the Station. It allows us to understand the environment in which they operate on a daily basis.
What are your tasks during a working day?
I attend several coordination meetings on the semi-annual and/or weekly planning of activities related to scientific experiments and the implementation of new Canadian technologies on board the Station. I also modify procedures for astronauts when they perform scientific experiments, and I ensure that the required resources are available when they need them. Shared resources require a great deal of coordination internally and with foreign partners.
Which professional accomplishment are you the most proud of?
I find it extraordinary to be able to work with professionals with a very high level of knowledge and performance, and to be able to collaborate on international projects. I admire the level of commitment and collaboration between the different countries on the International Space Station. Each country contributes in its own way to the advancement of science, technology and robotics for the well-being of humans. This is a great example of a successful international collaboration. I am also particularly proud of a project I worked on before I joined the Canadian Space Agency: I was involved, from beginning to delivery, in a five-year aeronautics project relating to the fly-by-wire system of a regional aircraft.
Who or what helped you the most throughout your career?
Having wonderful teachers as role models was very inspiring. When you see someone who is passionate about what they do, who believes in the result and in the impact they can have, I think it's natural that their passion becomes contagious.
To see women in engineering, where historically there has been very little female presence, is also inspiring. Having women and men in this environment adds different colours and shades. I believe that behind diversity, in all its forms, lies great richness. Everyone comes with their own background of experience and knowledge, and adds a stone to the building. As the stones are placed next to each other, a rich and strong mosaic is created. Many people in the world have inspired me, especially women who are passionate about their work but who have not stopped there. They have pushed their limits and thought about how their interests can have a tangible impact on those around them. I'm thinking, for example, of Marie Van Brittan Brown.
What advice would you give to a child or young adult?
Don't be afraid to follow your passion! My own life is a testament to this. At the age of 14, I had to do a school project on a subject that inspired me, and I chose to talk about the International Space Station. I went to libraries and cultural centres to get my information and I printed out photos, which I cut out and glued in my notebook. As it turned out, 20 years later I started working at the Canadian Space Agency with astronauts on the Station. Dreaming big and letting yourself be inspired is fantastic, and you shouldn't be afraid of it, because it's the foundation of any wonderful achievement.
How do/did you reconcile work commitments and your family life?
That's a bigger question than ever these days. With the technological means currently available, occasional telework makes it possible to optimize family life and work. For example, it offers more flexibility in scheduling routine appointments that are part of family life. Family responsibilities have not disappeared and are part of the personal balance.
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