Natalie Panek is a mission system and operations engineer at MDA Space Missions, the organization behind the creation of the Canadarm. She has a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Calgary, where she participated in the university’s solar car team. She helped design the team’s first car and drove it from Austin, Texas to Calgary in the 2005 North American Solar Challenge. She also obtained a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies, focusing on experiments to study combustion in a microgravity environment. Panek’s love of space and aviation led her to obtain a private pilot’s license to fly a single-engine aircraft during her undergraduate studies. She also participated in internships at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center and at the International Space University’s Space Studies Program at NASA’s Ames Research Center, where she worked on a mission to Mars.