Kirtan Dhunnoo

Mechanical Engineer at MDA | 2014 Scholar

“I remember it clearly. I was in my Social Studies class, and I saw an email pop up. My first thought was that it was a scam! I didn’t pay attention to it until a few days later, until I figured out it was actually real, so it was a slow burn- ha!"


Born 1996, Edmonton Alberta.


"I now work at MDA, the engineering company behind the Canadarms. I'm a mechanical engineer participating in the design, prototyping and testing of key elements of the new soon-to-fly Canadarm3 and Lunar Gateway!"

“The first time I did competitive swimming was in high school. By grade 12, I was the swim team captain and after that I was a coach. In competitive swimming, you see the bigger picture by working in a team. You have many people with different skillsets, from different backgrounds, and yet you’re building everyone towards a common goal. Everybody has good ideas, but different, so you need to find a way to marry them. There’s compromise in bringing in various points of view. This experience helped me learn about how to handle a group of people. And working in the space industry, I see a lot of parallels from those experiences.”
"We are on the absolute cusp of a new age of exploration. Space is becoming more widely available to all areas of society and to be at the forefront of this movement and explosion, and humanity's next step is such a blessing!"



As a kid, I loved things like Star Wars and Lego, but I thought the space industry was only reserved for people with a lot of PhDs. It didn’t click until later that the space industry is actually more accessible to people. Later in life, I ended up volunteering at a conference for the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and slowly with every initiative I took on more responsibility. One thing led to another and another, and I took advantage of every opportunity that came my way.


Failure can help you. It provides lessons that can help you in the long run. I know people who have succeeded at everything they do, and appear to be set for life. But later on they could face adversities. Looking back, I am grateful to have had tough experiences.


Space has a lot more opportunities than most are aware of, and it’s important to be aware that it can involve many people- and not just those with PhDs.


A lot of people focus on getting high marks, but they get to a workplace and have trouble in other areas because they’ve only been focused on one thing. What helped me was to be multifaceted- I didn’t have to be good at everything, but I have had a variety of experiences. As a small example, I did oil painting and sketching for 4 years. It helps me now, if I need to quickly sketch something, an idea floating around in my head, I can draw it and email it. I also know people who are musicians who use their math skills to orchestrate their notes, based on a mathematical pattern. In sports, for instance, you learn working as a team. These experiences can all build soft skills. Put yourself in things that you’re interested in, and if trying new things doesn’t work out, at the very least it makes for a funny story!

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