Member Spotlight – John Grey

John Grey is a 4th year Engineering Physics student who joined AlbertaSat after his second year when he heard about it through his friend, Charles Nokes. His interest in the group started with the thought that space is neat, and he didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to put something in space. John started out on the power team filling out paperwork and doing the ‘boring’ stuff, writing paragraph after paragraph explaining things. However after pushing through that time he was then put in charge of all the power systems of Ex Alta-1. With this, he was responsible for how the satellite uses power, how they can optimize that, whether it can produce enough power and all the hardware responsible for making those things become a reality.

To get to where he is now in the group, he has had to be consistent with his work and always pushes himself to go above and beyond what is asked of him. John lead the development of the simulation software for power consumption on the satellite and is continuously working on ways to optimize this for the satellite. According to him, when first starting out in AlbertaSat, it can be tricky as you have no skills that are relevant and things just don’t apply the same way in space as they do here on earth. Therefore, it’s inevitable that as a new member, you will go through a phase of generally not doing anything largely useful for the team but it is important to push through and eventually opportunities will start to open up to you and you can really start to contribute and make a difference in the mission. This can lead to opportunities to gain important roles in the group and an opportunity to really feel good about the work you’re doing.

John has lots of hobbies, he used to be a ski instructor and still rock climbs quite a bit. One of John’s proudest accomplishments is that he will soon be publishing a paper relating to AlbertaSat. The topic is regarding the calculation of the amount of power that can come into a satellite through its solar panels without needing to use hundred thousand dollar simulation software. John was asked to find a way to calculate the power coming in and at first he really struggled with it. He found that using the software available, without any background knowledge, to be almost impossible. So, he started building his own unique tools that eventually made it possible for AlbertaSat to calculate power in a much easier way. He figured these ideas were definitely worth sharing so, he went from there and started his paper. Outside of AlbertaSat, John simply enjoys the little things like rock climbing, he tries to get out to the mountains whenever he can. He also loves hiking and skiing too.

John has had the opportunity to go to Liege, Belgium, where he presented his research on power management software at the European CubeSat Symposium. At the conference he presented to a wide CubeSat community. He also had a week full of amazing beer and delicious waffles. This year, he had the chance to launch a rocket in ANDOYA, Norway and also went to a conference in Toronto.

Once John finishes his degree he plans to make his way into grad school. His goal is to eventually work in the satellite industry, he just doesn’t know where exactly just yet. His favourite part of AlbertaSat is the opportunities that he has to had travel the world and share his work and findings with others. Tyler Hrynyk claims that John’s second favorite thing about AlbertaSat was losing to him at Mario Carts. John really loves having the chance to apply things from class into the real world through his work at AlbertaSat. Because ‘bigger is better’, John would definitely choose to launch a one 1000U CubeSat rather than 1000 1U CubeSats. His favourite thing about Ex Alta-1 is simple, he loves that it is going to space. He is also looking forward to being able to help the community with the data that Ex Alta-2 will bring, it is slightly more unique than Ex Alta-1 as it is a more personal mission to Alberta and can help communities avoid fires and possibly even save lives.
John wanted to ensure that everyone knows just how great an opportunity AlbertaSat is. There is a big learning curve, and that can be intimidating, however if you’re willing to get through that, it truly will open up the world to you.


Author: Casia McLeod

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