Natalie Panek

Rocket scientist, explorer
Natalie Panek's work is focused on the idea that accountability for our environments never goes away.

Why you should listen

Natalie Panek's love of space and aviation led her to obtain a private pilot's license, design and drive a solar-powered car across North America, and build space robotics. She has participated in internships at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center and at NASA's Ames Research Center, where she worked on a mission to Mars. With degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering, Panek has contributed to a number of space projects, including MDA's satellite servicing initiative and ESA's 2020 ExoMars rover program. She currently works in Mission Systems at MDA's robotics and automation division, on Canadian space robotics and other space exploration programs.

Panek founded her website, thePanekRoom, to encourage women to pursue challenging careers in nontraditional fields and explore the outdoors. 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, and Canada's Financial Post describes Panek as "a vocal advocate for women in technology." She is also a member of the prestigious Explorer's Club and a Fellow of Royal Canadian Geographic Society. PANEK is the 2013 recipient of the University of Calgary Graduate of the Last Decade Award and the Northern Lights Award Foundation 2013 Rising Star in aerospace. She also joins an elite group of women as one of WXN's Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2014), Forbes' 30 Under 30 in Manufacturing and Industry (2015), Flare's inaugural 30 Under 30 list (2015) and one of Canada's Greatest Women Explorers by Canadian Geographic (2016).

(Photo: Geneviève Charbonneau)

Natalie Panek’s TED talk