By Alejandro Salazar Lobos and Marcus Kim

Emily Seto is an Edmonton-born and raised University of Alberta third-year Materials Engineering student. She has been a member of AlbertaSat for almost a year, and although joining the team was intimidating at first, AlbertaSat has exposed Emily to new ideas and knowledge from people coming from a variety of academic backgrounds, which has helped her grow personally and professionally. AlbertaSat has allowed Emily to translate lecture knowledge to real experience and application.

While growing up, Emily has always been interested in the sciences. Her interest in space technology has always been present, but upon hearing the news while in high school of an Alberta-made satellite sent into space, Emily knew immediately that one day she could be part of this pioneering project at the University of Alberta. Sure enough, a couple of years later, Emily would be joining the AlbertaSat team. 

Emily is well versed in AlbertaSat’s administrative side, having written blog posts for the TRR (Test Readiness Review), helped with social media, and will soon be the deputy team lead for AlbertaSat’s admin team. If not for her willingness to try new or unfamiliar tasks, as Emily says, she would have missed out on valuable opportunities. 

Emily mentioned that she has aspirations to become involved in the aerospace industry sometime after graduation, and is also considering graduate studies to help get herself there. Members of AlbertaSat get a lot of experience in the aerospace industry without even having a degree. Though, she also wisely recognizes that, especially in light of the recent pandemic, no plans are set in stone. She has also cited AlbertaSat as an excellent reference for applications to these opportunities, in addition to scholarships and resumes. She looks up to organizations like NASA and the CSA, as well as the relatively recent Wyvern Inc, a space sector company based in Edmonton, Alberta. Emily’s open-mindedness is an asset to her, both within the AlbertaSat team, and in her larger career. Another goal of hers is to teach herself how to play the ukulele. 

AlbertaSat is a relatively small project, which is a great advantage for students involved in it; as Emily says, getting the chance to work on small sub-projects in AlbertaSat and seeing the results gives one the ability to enjoy seeing and operating a device that has one’s direct input, which is behind science and engineering students’ motivation. The project is not massive compared to other engineering projects, so one gets to see what one has done. Being a small project also means that you get to work with people from different areas of expertise. Communication between different departments within the AlbertaSat team is a great opportunity to develop open-mindedness, learn a variety of different skills outside of the lecture rooms and laboratories, and stay motivated. A lot of things that you do in AlbertaSat, according to Emily, are DIY, which helps you work independently, all this in a group setting. 

When not doing engineering-related projects or studying for her program, Emily is gardening and enjoying outdoor activities. She likes growing plants and taking long walks in nature. A balance between work and leisure activities is very important for having a healthy lifestyle. AlbertaSat has taught Emily great management skills for keeping the different activities she is involved in balanced.

There is no reason to be afraid to ask questions in AlbertaSat! There are always members willing to help. For new and aspiring AlbertaSat members, Emily has to say always keep an open mind; be open to trying new things, getting out of your comfort zone, not only personally but also educationally, because a lot of things that you have to learn are outside of your area of studies.