Taryn Tomlinson



Senior Engineer & Chief of Staff to the President, Canadian Space Agency
B.Eng. Electrical Engineering 1998



Briefly describe your path to your current career.

Since I was a child, I was passionate about astronomy and all things space-related.  My greatest role models as a youth were our team of Canadian astronauts.  Using their passion and motivation as a guide, I chose to study both engineering (at the Bachelor’s level) and space science (at the Master’s level) to gain skills that would be needed for a career in developing instruments for space exploration. I first worked in industry in hardware design in San Diego, California, and then landed my first space-related position at the European Space Agency in Germany.  With the ultimate goal to contribute to Canada’s well-established role as a space faring nation, and specifically in the area of robotics, I came back to my roots to join the Canadian Space Agency in 2008.   

How has your engineering education at McGill contributed to your success?

McGill was my launchpad (so to speak) to many great opportunities.  It was a McGill alumni who hired me for my first job in California, and although he had never met be before, the McGill degree was synonymous with what the Americans call an “Ivy League" degree.  It was a McGill classmate who connected me to the European Space Agency and his referral who landed me the job.  My circle of friends from McGill continue to orbit one another like a constellation - helping to make new connections and to push each other in new directions.

What advice do you have for current students in the Faculty of Engineering?

Join the incredible EUS clubs and design teams that are such an important part of your university experience.  I was highly engaged in the EUS - from POWE, organizing the Engineering Games and twice on the EUS executive as VP Admin and as President in my final year.  Today, I am such a strong supporter of McGill Robotics - rarely have I come across such a brilliant group of diverse thinkers with astoundingly creative ideas.  I enjoy attending design reviews for the Rovers, the submarine, and my next hope is to attend a review for the new Rocket Design group.  For those of you who are involved - bravo!  For those not - you will never have a chance quite like this again!

Do you have anything else to add?

I like to tell current students that every ounce of blood, sweat and tears to get the engineering degree is worth its weight in gold.  The McGill University engineering degree is like a passport to just about anything you want to accomplish on this planet.

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