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Kumudu Jinadasa

“My #astropassion is outreach to motivate youth for the future of space.”
Kumudu's Biography

Kumudu Jinadasa holds a B.Eng in Mechanical Engineering from McGill University. Throughout her bachelor’s degree she also worked at Pratt & Whitney Canada. In 2005, she started in the Research and Development for small form aircraft engines, then transferred to PWC’s development department to complete a research project in conjunction with Transport Canada on the testing mechanisms for small form helicopter engines. In 2008, Kumudu accepted a position at CAE inc. to work on the design of military flight simulators, namely C130H and J models. In 2009, Kumudu began her career with the Canadian Space Agency as a robotics instructor where she instructed astronauts on how to operate Candarm 2 and Dexter. Currently, she is working in project management office for the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. Kumudu’s other interests include Space Outreach to students. Her next outreach presentation will be at the Canadian National Science Fair at McGill University in May 2016.

Project Engineer, Canadian Space Agency, St. Hubert, Québec, Canada

As a Project Engineer for the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), I am responsible for governance and reporting of the RCM project. My main functions are to capture and manage the projects risks, dashboard reporting to the CSA executive Committee, manage the overall project governance, schedule analysis reporting, budgeting, and submission of Treasury Board documentation.

The Canadian Space Agency’s mandate is “To promote the peaceful use and development of space, to advance the knowledge of space through science and to ensure that space science and technology provide social and economic benefits for Canadians”. The government has emphasized the importance of helping Canadian businesses grow, innovate and export. As space yields more commercial opportunities, the CSA continues to support innovation in Canada’s space industry to bring to market cutting-edge technologies and increase competitiveness abroad. In partnership with industry and universities, CSA will develop options to improve support for research and development.

I really enjoy the political aspect of being part of the RCM Project Management team. In government, approval for projects and funding is approved by the Prime Minister. Our business cases and project plans must be submitted at the highest levels of governance and undergo great scrutiny and political implications. For an engineer working on such a project means high visibility and recognition.

The two most interesting projects have definitely been those I’ve worked on at the Canadian Space Agency. My first job here was as a robotics instructor. I was trained rigorously on the Canadarm 2 simulator and gained my certification to be able to teach astronauts. I’ve trained a number of astronauts from NASA, ESA and JAXA. Another project, would be the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) which I am currently working on. RCM will launch 3 Earth observation satellites in 2018. RCM is currently the largest major crown project in Canada.

RCM will provide Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data to support maritime surveillance (ice, surface wind, oil pollution and ship monitoring); disaster management (mitigation, warning, response and recovery); and ecosystem monitoring (agriculture, wetlands, forestry and coastal change monitoring). SAR data has become essential for multiple government departments as well as commercial businesses to meet their mandates and run their businesses.

My vision of astronautics in the next 25 years is that there are no barriers. No perceived difference between men and women engineers and scientists. That everyone will let go of their preconceived ideas of who should work in these fields and we simply focus on what’s really important; science, innovation and moving forward together. I am currently very involved in student outreach and often I speak to women in engineering groups directly and support all students in their journey to space.

The best advice I’ve ever received came from my father. He repeated to me all my life one single message – ‘In Canada, you have so much opportunity; you can do anything you want to do’. I took this message very literally my entire life. I was never brought up with the idea that gender inequality exists, so for me it never did. I did not allow it to exist. I worked very hard and I was confident in my abilities. Yes, I have been challenged many times in my career but with my sound technical background and attention to detail, I am able to conquer any scrutiny that may come my way and either learn from it or annihilate it.

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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