Sylvain Laporte - President at Canadian Space Agency

Sylvain Laporte

President Canadian Space Agency

I was born/grew up in: I was born in Quebec City. As my father was in the military, we moved a lot when I was young, so I grew up in Quebec City, Barrie, ON, Edmonton, AB, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC and Lahr in Germany.

I now live in: Chelsea, Quebec, Canada

I completed my training/education at: Bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, and a master’s degree in computer engineering from the Royal Military College in Kingston.

What you do at work?

Sending astronauts to space, building an instrument to scan an asteroid, discovering and exploring new planets, developing new technologies that will find their way back to Earth and better the lives of Canadians: These are some of the themes of my daily meetings.

I feel very lucky to be able to work in the space “business.” It is an environment like no other. Collaboration is a key feature. Locally this occurs between CSA colleagues, Canadian universities and tech companies. International we work with partners like NASA, ESA or JAXA. All space missions are the result of amazing brains coming together from all walks of STEM around the globe.

At the office, I work with teams of experts from many fields. I use my background in engineering to study, understand and discuss all aspects of a project and then set the direction to make sure the best decisions are made.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does what you do affect people’s lives?

Space plays a crucial role in our daily lives. What would a day without Internet be like? Technologies that were first developed for space also play their part in our everyday realities. Some example are water purification, heart monitors, precision farming, navigation, robotics, solar power, sewage treatment, even shock-absorbing athletic shoes.

I feel privileged to be part of the present and future of space exploration. It is great to know that it will lead to new solutions that will better the lives of people here on Earth.

What motivates you in your career?

Meeting with young Canadians and seeing how space makes their eyes light up is what I enjoy the most about my job. Inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers is one of the Agency’s objectives. Our astronauts and employees meet with children from across the country to share their passion and spark their curiosity.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands. Major renovations and fixing cars are two of my favourite hobbies. I am also a certified sommelier and I am currently trying to learn to play guitar.

What advice would you give to a young person interested in a similar career?

My first piece of advice: Enjoy what you do and have fun!

Secondly: Collaboration is the mark of a good leader and will take you to where you want to go.

Let’s Talk Science recognizes and thanks Sylvain Laporte for his contribution to Canada 2067.

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