Natalie Panek

Senior Aerospace Engineer at MDA

Natalie is an intelligent, insightful, energetic speaker who infuses powerful storytelling with a down-to-earth personality. She brings an unrivaled passion for ideas that inspires audiences to embrace the learning process: demand the most of themselves, commit to a goal, and develop intellectual fortitude. Natalie is on a mission to inspire the next generation of female game-changers to dive head-on into challenges and pursue careers in engineering and technology. 

She shares a powerful narrative infused with valuable takeaways. Natalie has had some extraordinary experiences that have shaped her dreams of becoming an astronaut, including her grit and perseverance at applying and being rejected not once, not twice but 4 times by NASA... before she earned her internship at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center and Ames Research Center, where she worked on a mission to Mars. 

She’s currently working on a Mars space rover; the Rosalind Franklin, previously known as the ExoMars rover, in advance of its launch in 2022. 

At age 20, she was the first female driver of the University of Calgary’s inaugural solar-powered vehicle which raced up from Texas to Calgary. With degrees in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Natalie has also co-authored papers on Microgravity Combustion and On-orbit Satellite Servicing. Her love of space and aviation led her to obtain a private pilot’s license to fly a single-engine aircraft. The Financial Post described Natalie as “a vocal advocate for women in technology”. 

She’s also worked on partnerships with Barbie for the launch of astronaut Barbie and a documentary about her experiences, Space to Explore, premiered at the Banff Film Festival. 

Throughout her challenging projects, she understands that learning & growth happens every day: from failure, from colleagues, or from new experiences. 

She is a technology contributor for The Next Women Business Magazine. She was featured on the editorial site Women You Should Know as a STEM Rock Star who is revolutionizing how we think about women in tech. Natalie is also a mentor and program adviser for Cybermentor, through the University of Calgary. 

12:31 pm

October 5th, 2022 Dreamer Day Fest

A Dream out of This World!

Some people say that having your head in the clouds is a bad thing. However, Natalie Panek has been dreaming of space for as long as she can remember. Despite hardships, Natalie's dream of spaceships came true.