Engineering | From Germany to the Polytechnic via NASA

At the age of 17, German Marcel Kaufmann won a competition organized by NASA. About 10 years later, Chris Hadfield was recommended for a scholarship to study at the Polytechnic. In a few months, he will be moving to California to work at the prestigious JPL Laboratory.

The doctoral candidate seems to be living in a fairy tale. “When I won the NASA competition, they sent me to Houston for a workshop where I could plan a mission with astronauts and engineers,” the 32-year-old recalls. Sparked my passion for space! »

Growing up in Sachsenhausen, a small village 90 minutes from Frankfurt, he dreamed of seeing the rest of the world. “When I went to the States, it was my first flight. I met Chris Hadfield, who became my inspiration.”

Great wallet

After completing his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt, Marcel Kaufmann moved to the Netherlands to work for a Science & Technology company. Its role: to monitor critical infrastructure, such as gas and oil pipelines, from space. “We’ve used European and Canadian radars to monitor companies that start drilling when they shouldn’t,” he explains. It often occurs in some African countries and Western countries such as the Netherlands. »

One day, he received a call from Giovanni Beltrame, a professor in the Department of Computer Engineering and Software Engineering at Montreal Polytechnic. “He asked me if I wanted to do a PhD with him. I had always dreamed of furthering my studies, but I didn’t have the money. He offered me a scholarship, in addition to encouraging me to apply for one of the Vanier Graduate Scholarships, and told me I had a good opportunity.”

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And for good reason, because Marcel Kaufmann has an amazing scholarship.

In 2017 I quit my job and moved to Montreal knowing I don’t speak French. It’s the fifth language I’m learning, not counting the programming languages ​​I have in mind as well.

Marcel Kaufman

Jump to NASA

During his doctoral studies, he had the opportunity to work at NASA for a few months. In 2020, I worked on a project for robots that independently explore unknown worlds or underground environments. »

Due to the epidemic, he returned to Montreal to continue his studies and collaborate with the JPL laboratory remotely. Their collaboration has become so fruitful that a job offer awaits him when he finishes his dissertation.

In fact, his knowledge of photonics, computer science, and robotics makes him a prime candidate for NASA.

I am like a Swiss army knife with many tools that I can use to tackle a variety of challenges.

Marcel Kaufman

He will also be called on to work on several NASA projects as a data scientist. For anyone wondering if the student knows Farah Ali Bey, the answer is “yes”. JPL has between 600 and 800 people. I had no direct contact with Farah, except for a virtual coffee during the pandemic. Maybe we will have a chance to cooperate in the future, but I don’t know. »

Speaking of the future, he would like to go to space. “I, along with 23,000 other people, have applied for ESA’s latest call for astronaut applications. I haven’t been selected, but I will keep trying. It’s a long-standing dream.”

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About the Author: Octávio Florencio

"Evangelista zumbi. Pensador. Criador ávido. Fanático pela internet premiado. Fanático incurável pela web."

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