By Pundeep Hundal, Tyler Stocking and Andrew Wu

An Edmontonian through-and-through, Ethan Ledig is currently enrolled in his third year of his BSc in mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta. Ethan joined AlbertaSat in September 2019 and was initiated into the mechanical team, later moving on to the systems engineering team. 

While growing up, Ethan had a keen interest in machines and deciphering the mechanics behind the things around him. He fondly recalled all the times that he would spend with his grandfather working on and fixing cars. Through this experience, he gained an affinity for working with machines and tinkering with them. It was the culmination of his childhood experiences and his interests that pushed him towards pursuing engineering, ultimately majoring in mechanical engineering. Ethan always had a devoted admiration for outer space and he developed that by taking an astronomy course in high school. This admiration grew to a point where he not only joined AlbertaSat but got further involved in astronomy in his personal time. His prized possession in his room is his telescope that he often uses to gaze up at starry nights and fulfil his passion for astrophotography. 

Since joining AlbertaSat, Ethan has found his roles within the mechanical and systems engineering team enjoyable and fulfilling. As a member of the mechanical team, his initial tasks involved significant SolidWorks modelling. He particularly enjoyed creating drawings of the UHF antennas for the satellite which was his hands-on experience at utilizing his classroom knowledge towards the progress of Ex-Alta 2. Subsequently, he joined the systems engineering team where one of his roles involves creating a test plan for the upcoming FlatSat portion of the assembly, integration, and testing phase of the satellite development. At the time of this blog, Ethan is closely involved in building the Icarus structure for vibration testing which will be carried out at General Dynamics (GD). From coordinating the manufacturing of a pod for use during these vibrational tests, to contacting GD for use of their testing facilities, Ethan described his involvement in this process as his most important learning experience within AlbertaSat. He is also involved in the orbital operations of York University’s DECENT satellite where he works at the University of Alberta ground station to communicate with the satellite after York University’s ground station went down. 

Ethan presented as part of the systems engineering team during the Critical Design Review (CDR) of Ex-Alta 2. This is one of his fondest memories and his most significant accomplishment as part of AlbertaSat. Reflecting on this experience, Ethan believes that presenting to engineers from organizations like Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and Nanoracks Inc., although a daunting task, has enabled him to grow personally, making him more confident in his own presentation skills.

In addition to being a fulltime mechanical engineering student and an active AlbertaSat member, Ethan also works on a part-time basis at Boston Pizza where he has been employed for the past 6 years in various roles and is currently a bartender. He calls his experience as a bartender both stressful and fun, especially enjoying the aspect of chatting with strangers which is extremely rewarding to him when he looks at it from the point of view of becoming a better communicator.  

When asked about the about the direction in which AlbertaSat is heading as a project group, Ethan is optimistic about the interest that the group is attracting due to all of its recent success. He believes that the talent within AlbertaSat will ignite opportunities that will allow the group to achieve more, building on what has already been done. With regards to his plans for the future after graduating next year, he hopes to continue to be involved in AlbertaSat in some way, and he plans to leverage his skills and connections that he built in AlbertaSat to pursue a career in aerospace industry. 

To any new member in AlbertaSat, Ethan has one recommendation: “get involved in any way you can; seek out opportunities even if they are not assigned to you, offer help and go looking out for tasks.” He pointed to his own experience with the manufacturing of the test pod for vibration testing that he got involved in because he realized nobody else was doing it and took this task upon himself.