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Nimita Wadhwa

“My #AeroPassion is to be a part of our spacefaring planet for the benefit of humankind.”
Nimita's Biography

I graduated from Bachelors of Applied Science, Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo with a focus in Control Systems. Waterloo co-op program gave me a chance to try different things, so I have worked in the Silicon Valley, on the Wall Street and other companies in engineering related capacities. After that I did Masters of Engineering, in Aerospace Engineering from Cornell University focusing on Spacecraft Engineering – Attitude Controls and Orbital Mechanics with a project in Robotics. I was hired by the Canadian Space Agency(CSA) in the two-year Junior Engineer program in 2011 which gave me the opportunity to work in various space projects in different departments of the CSA before I started as a Spacecraft Engineer in Satellite Operations in 2013.

I work as a Spacecraft Engineer in the Satellite Operations department of the Canadian Space Agency. I am currently working on NEOSSat (Near Earth Object Space Surviellance Satellite), which is a dual mission microsatellite looking for inner solar system asteroids and tracking other satellites. I write commands for NEOSSat to implement the requests sent by the scientists, do simulations of the requests to ensure the safety of the Spacecraft, analysis of the telemetry after execution and resolve any anomalies that might occur on the spacecraft.

The Canadian Space Agency coordinates all civil, space-related policies and programs on behalf of the Government of Canada

Commanding a spacecraft in orbit – not a lot of people can say that they have done that! Working at the Canadian Space Agency also means to work for the people of Canada, for the country, and to contribute to something much bigger than myself.

My current project is definitely the most interesting, as it involves spacecraft anomaly resolution. From the telemetry, you need to understand the alarms and figure out what is wrong with the spacecraft, and then create a plan to resolve the anomaly. It is time critical, challenging and requires an in-depth knowledge of the spacecraft. Older anomalies are documented well, but you need to be ready for anything.

Every project I work on is meant for the benefit of the people. For example, the satellite I work on currently is the world’s first space telescope dedicated to detecting and tracking asteroids and satellites. It circles the globe every 100 minutes, scanning space near the Sun to pinpoint asteroids that may someday pass close to Earth. It is also sweeping the skies in search of satellites and space debris as part of Canada’s commitment to keeping orbital space safe for everyone.

In the next 25 years, I wish to see equal pay for equal work. Also, equal representation of women in aerospace, especially in the technical fields and astronaut corps. I believe we need to continue to inspire young girls towards STEM disciplines and get rid of the gender biases and stereotypes that exist in our society. I am also on the steering committee of the Women in Science, Technology and Management at the CSA who focus on the balanced representation of women at the CSA.

I love the quote from one of the Wright Brothers: “If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance”. To me this implies that nothing is impossible. So follow your dreams no matter how unreal they may seem, because truth of today might not be the truth of tomorrow.

Through outreach and professional development activities, research, partnerships, thought leadership and online initiatives, we work with industry and academia to educate on the value of diversity for innovation, to inspire women to thrive and to celebrate the contributions of women in science and engineering.
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