Conference Speakers

Aaron Persad

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Dr. Aaron Persad joined the Sinton Lab in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department at the University of Toronto (U of T) in 2016 as a Post-Doctoral Fellow where he investigates the phase-change kinetics of hydrocarbons in nano-channels. The objective of his research is to develop more efficient and greener methods of extracting hydrocarbons from shale. His doctoral work (under Charles A. Ward in the Thermodynamics and Kinetics Laboratory at U of T) investigated several topics: liquid-vapor phase change processes, surface and wetting phenomena, energy transport and conversion, and the stability of confined fluids in near-freefall environments. Dr. Persad served as a Canadian member of the European Space Agency’s Microgravity Applications Program mission team until 2016, and he has designed and built payloads flown to the International Space Station. He completed his B.A.Sc. in 2006 at U of T in the biomedical stream of Engineering Science. His undergraduate thesis with the Bone Interface Group at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering investigated the effects of Shuttle launch vibrations on the proliferation, viability and conformation of stem cells derived from human umbilical cords. In 2004, Dr. Persad worked in the Canadian Space Agency’s Life and Physical Sciences division. His duties included coordinating parabolic flight campaigns using the Falcon-20 aircraft with the National Research Council’s Flight Research Laboratory, and assisting investigators with their experiments while in freefall, building experiments for parabolic flights, and developing a portable mini-freefall drop tower for use in educational outreach activities. Dr. Persad pursues training as a scientist-astronaut with Astronauts for Hire, Integrated Spaceflight Services, and Project PoSSUM. He is the Manager of Microgravity Operations at Integrated Spaceflight Services and is the Chief Science Officer for Astronauts for Hire. He is also a university lecturer in Advanced Classical Thermodynamics and Statistical Thermodynamics. He was recognized as the top teaching assistant by the Faculty of Engineering in 2013. His doctoral thesis was nominated by the MIE department for the 2015 John Leyerle-CIFAR Prize for Interdisciplinary Research and for the Governor General’s Gold Medal.


Darren McGuire

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Joining the Royal Canadian Air Force through the Regular Officer Training Plan, LCol Darren (Duffy) McGuire received his BSc in Mathematics and Physics at the University of Guelph in 1988. After earning his pilot wings in summer 1989, LCol McGuire flew CH124 Sea King helicopters with 443 Maritime Helicopter squadron off the west coast. He deployed with air detachments on the HMCS Huron, HMCS Annapolis, and HMCS Provider until 1993, when he was posted as an instructor to HT406 training squadron in Shearwater, NS. In 1997, he attended the Royal Military College of Canada and received a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies, which was followed by a posting to the Directorate of Maritime Strategy as the air advisor to the Navy staff from 1998-2002. He returned to operational flying on the East Coast at 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron from 2002-2005 on the HMCS St John’s, and then served in the 12 Wing headquarters for four years. After a short two year posting with the United States Navy at Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Maryland, he returned to the Canadian Aerospace Warfare Centre in 2011 where he has been primarily focused on concept development and experimentation within the RCAF.


Jean-Pierre Hickey

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Jean-Pierre Hickey is an Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo where he leads the Multi-Physics Interaction Lab. His research tackles fluid dynamic problems that are defined by a strong coupling between turbulence, acoustics, heat transfer, thermodynamics, and/or chemical kinetics. The objective is provide insight into some of the key challenges in the field of rocket propulsion through a juditious use of high-fidelity numerical simulations, large-scale computations, and applied mathematics. Prior to joining Waterloo, Jean-Pierre was a Post-Doctoral Fellow and then a Research Scientist respectively at the Center for Turbulence Research of Stanford University and in the Spacecraft Department at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Jean-Pierre obtained his PhD from the Royal Military College of Canada, his M.Sc. from TU-Darmstadt, and B.Ing. from Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal.


Brodie Houlette

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Brodie is the co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Promethean Labs – a Canadian CubeSat startup based in Edmonton, Alberta. Brodie comes to Promethean Labs with nearly a decade’s worth of experience in politics, government and public affairs. He is also Co-Founder and President of MaxQ Accelerator – Canada’s first space-startup accelerator.


Jeremy Wang 

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Jeremy Chan-Hao Wang is a UAS and hybrid rocket propulsion researcher, engineer, and entrepreneur who always sees the people side of a story. As Director of Engineering for The Sky Guys—one of Canada’s fastest growing drone start-ups providing service, tech, and pilot training—Jeremy spearheads AI-enabled drone and software innovation focused on industrial and defence. Jeremy is also the Executive Director of the University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT) where he leads strategic planning and engineering oversight of more than 85 students designing drones, rockets, satellites, and outreach initiatives, in addition to the growth of a $16M global sponsorship portfolio. He has served as a concept development advisor to the Department of National Defence since 2014, designed rocket nozzles for the German space agency, published 9 papers on rocket propulsion and space policy, and recently began a strategic advisory role with the Canadian Space Agency. His mission is to mobilize the technological, business, and inspirational potential of aerospace to empower individuals and organizations to understand their needs and be effective, efficient, and passionate about what they do. Jeremy is a fourth-year BASc Engineering Science candidate at the University of Toronto, and was selected as one of Canada’s “The Next 36”in 2016.


Katie Gwozdecky

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Katie Gwozdecky is a mechanical engineering student at the University of Toronto insatiably curious about the world around her, and passionate about building strong interdisciplinary teams of driven individuals in her highly technical projects. She has years of experience in engineering teams, and firmly believes in the power of positive and inspiring leadership in generating high quality work. She is currently leading the University of Toronto Aerospace Team’s Space Systems division, where her team is developing a low-cost, high-throughput astrobiology nanosatellite to revolutionize how teams around the world collect scientific research in orbit. Simultaneously, she is currently working at neurosurgical engineering company Synaptive Medical, helping to design robotic hardware that will help surgeons reduce risk and increase accuracy in the operating room. One day she hopes to blend her work in space engineering and medicine by designing life support systems that help astronauts survive the harsh environments of space while on missions to Mars and beyond.