Defence Team recognized for support to astronaut recruitment

Award recipients pose for a photo.
Fifteen Members of the Canadian astronaut recruitment team were recently recognized with a 2017 Public Service Award of Excellence in the Excellence in Profession category.
First row (seated L to R): Carole Sicotte (CSA), Leena M. Tomi (CSA), Karl Saad (CSA), Julie Simard (CSA), Joseph Jean-Marc Comtois (CSA)
Second row (L to R): Lidia Marrello-Curcio (PSC), Luminita Ilinca Ignat (CSA), Sylvain Laporte (President of the CSA), Joy Klammer (DND), Gordon Venner (Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence), Claudine Chartrand (CSA), Karyne Poissant (CSA), Edward Tabarah (CSA), Olivier Brisson (CSA), and Liza Zourikian (CSA).
Missing from photo are award recipients Patrick Gagnon (DND) and Natalie Hirsch (CSA).

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This is the third in a three-part article series on the support the Defence Team provided to the Canadian Space Agency during its 2017 astronaut recruitment campaign.

By Diane Riddell, Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis

The recent testing process for the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA’s) year-long astronaut recruitment campaign generated a tremendous amount of information, and teams within the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) were instrumental in helping the agency make sense of it all.

One of the innovative aspects of this process was the creation of a dashboard by the team at Defence’s Directorate of Fitness (DFIT) to respond to a CSA request to visualize the data on each candidate.

“It’s one of those innovations that came out a bit by default because we had to find a way to simplify the massive amount of data on each candidate in a more palatable summary,” said Patrick Gagnon, senior manager of Human Performance at DFIT. He added that the dashboard has already been pressed into further use elsewhere in the CAF.

“I can see it being used … whenever we have assessment centres that use both physical and behavioural data,” added Dr. Joy Klammer, director of Research Personnel Generation at Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis (DGMPRA).

Overall, the latest astronaut recruitment campaign pushed the DND and the CAF to excel further, and laid the groundwork for future efforts.

Asked if they found anything uniquely Canadian about this year’s astronaut candidates, Mr. Gagnon and Dr. Klammer noted the candidates’ spirit of adventure, and the fact that many were accomplished in more than one discipline.

“Obviously these were very high achievers,” said Mr. Gagnon. Dr. Klammer noted that “the vast majority of candidates were the types of people who did not perceive barriers. I see that as something that is very Canadian. We don’t look to see the barriers, we look to see what the opportunities are and we find a way around the barriers.”

DGMPRA and DFIT worked very well together,” added Mr. Gagnon. “We know that when we get together, we get something that is much better than what we could create on our own.”

Both leaders expressed their thanks to the military members, civilian scientists and others who were involved in supporting the process, in addition to the CSA. While a very different organization than the Defence Team, CSA had a superb core group of people who made all the difference in moving forward.

“The CSA is very thankful for the support it received from its many partners in this year’s astronaut recruitment campaign. This support was a key element for the success of this campaign,” said Karl Saad of CSA. “In particular, the support we received from DND in the creation of [centres to assess the candidates] and the delivery of medical testing really highlight DND’s world-class capabilities. This partnership clearly demonstrated DND’s capability to support other government departments in their missions. This is a great example of beneficial and successful interdepartmental collaboration.”

Lieutenant-General C.A. Lamarre, commander of Military Personnel Command, praised everyone involved.

“I am very proud of everyone, both serving and civilian members, for their support to this year’s astronaut recruitment campaign,” he said. “Their teamwork delivered excellence in the process that will serve our CSA client as well as DND and the CAF now and in the future.”

Mr. Gagnon and Dr. Klammer, along with Major Lenora Collins from DGMPRA, were recognized at a reception for partners by the CSA for their efforts in helping support the astronaut recruitment campaign. In addition, 15 members of the Canadian astronaut recruitment team, including Mr. Gagnon and Dr. Klammer, were recently recognized with a 2017 Public Service Award of Excellence in the Excellence in Profession category.

Image gallery

  • Award recipients pose for a photo.
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