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Johanne Heald

“My #AstroPassion is using space for the benefit of all.”
Johanne's Biography

Johanne Heald has always been interested in space. She had a poster of Halley’s Comet up in her bedroom to prepare for its visit in 1986, and went to SpaceCamp in Alabama when she was 16 years old. She chose her undergraduate degree based on where she could get a specialization in Aerospace, which, at the time, was the University of Toronto’s Engineering Science program. She then went on to do her Master’s degree at the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies, where she learned that she could attend a summer program in Vienna at International Space University. Her first full-time job was with the European Space Agency, where she specialized in navigation and control of spacecraft. She then took her Ph.D. degree in Colorado, where she specialized in deployable space structures. Now, she works at the Canadian Space Agency, where she has overseen the development of the Canadian instrument contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) when it launches in 2018.

Structures System Engineer, Canadian Space Agency in Longueuil, Quebec

My organisation sets the policy and budget for Canadian space industry. It also oversees the development of pieces of technology for industry.

My favorite part of my job is seeing all the progress being made for Canadian space projects.

JWST has been the most interesting (and long-lived!) project I have been involved in.

Of course, my work affects people’s everyday lives: every time a GPS receiver is used, every time a medical procedure with remote access is used, every time someone uses their television set, those are all done using access to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

My vision for women in astronautics in the next 25 years is to be present, to use our access to space to make the world we live in be a great place to come from. I am working with the United Nations to help make this happen.

My best advice to aspiring women in astronautics: Do not let yourself get discouraged – do what you love to do. Don’t let well-meaning person, no matter how close, talk you out of what you love. My parents were concerned, particularly in high school, that my ambitions weren’t very particle, and my under-grad colleagues at University thought I would have difficulty finding a job, that there were ‘no jobs for aerospace engineers’. But I did it anyway, and they eventually all came around. ????

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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