The Canadian Space Agency Space Learning Grants

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Mcgill J Med. 2011 Jun; 13(2): 53.

Jason Clement*

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA), via its Space Learning Program offers a bevy of opportunities that Canadian university students may wish to leverage.

Through the Space Learning Grants Program, the CSA provides funding to upwards of 200 students each year 舓 the majority being undergraduate and graduate students 舓 which supports their participation in space-focused learning initiatives. This grant program, designed to assist students with funds to help cover travel, registration and living expenses, is open to students from primary school right up to the doctorate level, so long as the student is either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.

Over the past year, funding awarded through this program has allowed students to participate in a wide variety of initiatives covering an array of fascinating disciplines – from an annual Aerospace Medical Association Meeting, and international Lunabotics competitions to Solar- Terrestrial science conferences.

While individual requests for funding can be submitted and considered, budget-permitting, on an ad-hoc basis year-round, there are also two opportunities both earmarked and funded through this program on an annual basis.

The first is the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 舓 the largest annual international space conference. Each year in February, students are asked to submit abstracts to the CSA on relevant conference topics that will also allow them to highlight their research at the congress. Each abstract undergoes an internal evaluation by CSA scientists, engineers and medical professionals with those achieving the highest rankings forwarded to the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) 舓 the organization responsible for the IAC – for final selection. In 2011, close to 60 abstracts were submitted for consideration to be included at the congress in Cape Town, South Africa, with 21 Canadian students ultimately being selected for funding by the Canadian Space Agency to share their work with the conference delegation of international space professionals and other students. For anyone interested in applying to the 2012 edition of IAC , to be held in Naples, Italy, information on the application process will be posted on the student (17+) section of the CSA web site in the late fall.

A second learning opportunity funded by the CSA is the NASA Academy summer program. NASA Academy provides students at the upper undergraduate or early graduate levels with an opportunity to spend 10 weeks paired with a researcher at one of the NASA centres. Students selected to participate are given the extraordinary opportunity to conduct space research with an experienced researcher in addition to developing their own group project with fellow students.

NASA Academy participants are treated to a wonderful introduction to the space field through a series of presentations, meetings and visits at the various NASA centres across the United States. In the past two years, two McGill students have been selected through this competitive process – Medical student Laura Drudi in 2010 and Atmospheric Science student Alexandra Anderson-Frey for the summer of 2011. Information for those interested in applying to the 2012 NASA Academy will also be available via the student section of the CSA web site in the fall.

Finally, the My Research section of the CSA website profiles the next generation of space leaders, providing a showcase for students involved in space-related research. The profiles featured in this section are constantly evolving and are written by the students themselves, with each profile sharing with the reader the individual’s story of where they came from, what they are currently doing and where they see themselves headed in the future. This section also provides a great opportunity for space industry representatives to identify some of the country’s brightest students who may be at the forefront of leading the next wave of Canadian innovation.

For more information on any of these programs, as well as many other learning opportunities, please visit the student section of the CSA website at: http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/youth-students/17/


Jason Clement (B.A. Cultural Studies‘98) currently works as a Communications Officer for the Space Learning Program at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Prior to joining the CSA in December 1999, Jason worked in the promotions department at what is now Virgin Radio and wrote his own section- called “Fresh Meet” – in a national magazine titled Fresh, which profiled people in the 18-34 demographic from a variety of interesting fields. At the CSA, Jason is responsible for the coordination of the Space Learning Grants & Contributions Program, the Student and Educator Professional Development Workshop Program, the Student/Youth section of the website as well as a variety of special projects including the development of student programming for a number of space-related international conferences. Jason also represents Canada at the Working Group level of the International Space Education Board.

*To whom correspondence should be addressed:
Jason Clement
Canadian Space Agency
Phone: (450) 926-4345
Email:jason.clement@asc-csa.gc.ca