Joshua Kutryk


A group of students from Smith Engineering at Queen’s University recently had the opportunity to meet with a Canadian astronaut who is scheduled to travel to space and serve at the International Space Station in 2025.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Joshua Kutryk met with approximately 80 students and Smith Engineering faculty and staff on Friday, March 22 at Ingenuity Labs in Mitchell Hall.

Kutryk spoke to the students, primarily members of space-related engineering design teams, about his journey to becoming an astronaut, his upcoming mission, the latest developments in the NASA and Canadian Space Agency programs, as well as Canada’s ongoing contributions to the space exploration effort.

Kutryk has taken part in several similar events recently, where he gets to meet with young Canadians. While he shares what he has learned and experienced through his astronaut training he says the interactions have been incredibly positive and rewarding.   

“Events like this are inspiring and energize me because I used to be here – I was an engineering undergrad at RMC 20 years ago,” Kutryk says. “I've grown to now see how much this country gets from what we do, specifically engineering departments across Canada. So, it's wonderful, it makes me happy, content, excited, passionate, and proud to be Canadian, to see that we still have this going on, which is smart, bright undergraduate students who want to go out there and build awesome things. It’s good for us.”


Dean Deluzio with Joshua Kutryk


Learning opportunity

The presentation was followed by a question-and-answer period that had an excellent level of engagement, with a number of thoughtful questions from students and insightful responses from Kutryk.

Vanessa Noel, a graduating mechanical engineering student and executive member of Queen’s Space Engineering Team (QSET) who helped host the event, says Kutryk’s advice resonated with her, particularly his emphasis on finding one’s passion and pursuing meaningful work, even if it doesn't initially lead to a job in the space industry.

“Learning about his journey, including the fact that he wasn't selected the first time he applied to be an astronaut, made his story even more inspiring,” Noel says. “While I anticipated insights into the space industry and his role in the CSA, it was his personal experiences, mentality, and motivations that truly captivated me. Those are the things that will stick with me throughout my career.”

It was a return to Kingston for Kutryk who graduated from Royal Military College with a degree in mechanical engineering. He would then go to flight school and become a CF-18 pilot. During his military career he has also served as a test pilot and instructor pilot, and attained the rank of colonel.

In 2017, he was selected by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), along with Jenni Gibbons, for Astronaut Candidate Training. He graduated in 2020, becoming an astronaut.

He is assigned to Starliner-1, a commercial crew mission to the International Space Station, where he will live and work for approximately six months. He was also selected as capcom (capsule communicator) for the first crewed test flight of the CST-100 Starliner vehicle, which is set for launch later this year.

Also attending the talk was Dean of Smith Engineering Kevin Deluzio, who was impressed not only by the special guest but by the Queen’s students in attendance as well.

“This was such a fantastic opportunity, for students from Smith Engineering to hear firsthand from a current Canadian astronaut who, like them, studied engineering,” notes Dean Deluzio. “To see the students’ faces in reaction to all that was shared by Col. Kutryk, the enthusiasm and excitement was contagious. The interest level within the talk was incredible, from technical aspects right up to some profound thoughts on the ‘overview effect’ that space travel has on those very few humans who have experienced it. Col. Kutryk was also very generous with his time and insights, greeting and talking with students long after the close of the scheduled talk. It was a special night for everyone in attendance, and something I know we will all remember for some time.”

Among those attending were members of the Queen’s Space Engineering Team, the Queen’s-American Indian Science and Engineering Society (Q-AISES) Rocket Team, and Queen’s Rocket Engineering Team (QRET), and others.


Joshua Kutryk selfie with crowd


This article originally appeared in the Queen's Gazette.