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July 2012

Launching a good team takes skill

With the average cost of launching a satellite easily reaching hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years, making telecommunications equipment smaller yet still reliable can be a tremendous cost-saving measure.

For Mitacs Step student So-Ra Chung, her specialty is in developing micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technologies for use in the aerospace industry using team building and project management skills she learned through Mitacs Step.

As a Certified Professional Engineer and PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo, So-Ra also volunteers with the University’s Satellite Engineering team. The group of undergraduate, Master’s and Doctoral students is working together with the goal to compete this fall at the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge in Ontario. The team must design and build a “micro” satellite from parts of consumer electronics or other off-the shelf technologies- a tactic which reduces the cost of both manufacturing and launch of the device. The team has worked well together this year, having successfully advanced through the preliminary rounds of the competition.

So-Ra credits her positive experiences within the team to the skills she learned at workshops about “The Art of Powerful Conversation” and “Foundations of Project Management”, both offered through Mitacs Step.  “The workshops helped me to reach a deeper level and to get to know people better, as well as helping us take advantage of our people-power to design the satellite.”

Having used the skills she learned through Mitacs Step workshops, So-Ra raves about the effect that they have had in her personal and professional lives saying, “The workshops were worth every single second- I learned so much that I didn’t know or didn’t have the tools to do before.”