As a former astronaut and engineer, Julie Payette is a perfect role model for Canadian women pursuing STEM careers. Now the 53-year-old Montrealer has also been named Canada’s 29th Governor General. It suffices to say that Ms. Payette has taken a fascinating path to become the Queen’s next representative in Canada, and one that makes her exceptionally qualified to take on this role.
To celebrate Ms. Payette’s new appointment, Canada 2067 has put together a list of five things you may not know about her:
- Before joining the space program, Ms. Payette worked as a system engineer with IBM Canada and also conducted research in computer systems, natural language processing and automatic speech recognition. She speaks six languages herself, namely French and English (fluent); Russian, German Italian and Spanish (conversant).1
- In June 1992, Ms. Payette was selected from 5,330 applicants as one of four astronauts by the Canadian Space Agency. After receiving her training in Canada, she worked as a technical advisor for the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) on the robotic system that helped to develop the International Space Station.2
- She founded the Human Computer Interaction Group and was a technical specialist for the International Research Studies Group (RSG-10) on speech recognition for NATO (1993 to 1996). Between 1995 and 1998, she also sat on the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).2
- From 2000 to 2007, Ms. Payette was chief astronaut of the Canadian Space Agency. During this time, she worked as a capsule communicator (CAPCOM) at Mission Control Center where she supervised the communications between ground controllers and astronauts in flight.
- She is remarkably talented when it comes to music. She plays the piano, flute and has sung with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Piacere Vocale in Basel, Switzerland, and the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto.1
Like everyone across our nation, Canada 2067 is overwhelmingly thrilled to welcome Ms. Payette as our new Governor General, especially given her accomplished STEM background.