Carleton Aerospace Engineering Grad Student Wins Volunteer Award

By Ellen Tsaprailis

Juan Posada is close to completing a master’s in applied science in aerospace engineering, where he researches spacecraft thermal control systems.

Running experiments on flight hardware and developing numerical models to predict its behavior is getting him closer to becoming “that mission control person you would hear about in movies.” When he’s not chasing his dream, he spends his free time giving back to Carleton and the community.

Posada is the 2018 winner of the Adrian D.C. Chan Award for Volunteer and Community Service.

Created by Chan, Carleton’s assistant vice-president (Academic) and a professor in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering, the award recognizes community contributions by Carleton engineering students. Recipients must maintain high marks while displaying exemplary volunteer engagement in and outside the Carleton community.

“I feel extremely pleased, honoured and humbled to be recognized as a good volunteer in this amazing community,” says Posada. “The more involved I became, the more I realized the things I am passionate about and that I love.

“This award represents my growth as person. I discovered how much you can impact other peoples’ lives through small actions, and this award is a reminder that I can always strive to help and improve the lives of others even further.”

As an undergraduate and now graduate student in Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design, Posada has volunteered as a facilitator for Engfrosh each year he has been on campus.

“It was definitely a highlight of my entire undergrad, mostly because you get to help your frosh during that week and even later as they progress through their undergrad, asking for advice,” says Posada. “To some degree, it feels a bit like long-term mentoring.”

In his third year of undergrad, Posada founded the Carleton Planetary Robotics Team. He volunteered to be the president in its first year and for three years after he was the mechanical team lead.

“The team builds a $15,000 rover to compete in international competitions,” says Posada. “As mechanical team lead, I mostly gave direction to our members in terms of the design cycle. I was in charge of teaching members standardized ways to model in 3D, make manufacturing drawings, and I ran some tutorials on software that students don’t learn how to use until their fourth year.”

Posada was also a part of the undergraduate engineering program’s fourth-year satellite design project where he continued to volunteer while pursuing his master’s. “I became a volunteer member, continuing to attend some meetings, helping students transition into various roles, explaining design decisions that previous years had made and clarifying the reasons why. I also taught students who were inexperienced with finite element analysis.”

This past fall, Posada joined the Carleton University Student Emergency Response Team, a group of volunteers who respond to all medical emergencies on campus. He completed 600 hours in total with training and helped as one of the organizers for this year’s National Conference of Campus Emergency Responders.

“I helped in the pursuit of a referendum to establish a graduate student levy through presentations to the graduate student association and campaigning.”

Posada has also volunteered at a number of conferences. They include CASI ASTRO 2016 (Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute), the Canadian Space Society’s Space Summit 2017 as a member of the logistics team and event photographer, and this summer he will be volunteering on the medical team for both the Ottawa and Montreal Commicons.

Chan has high praise for Posada.

“Juan has demonstrated a long history of giving to his community. Juan feels an enormous amount of gratitude for the opportunities he has been given, which seems to drive him to give back and give other people opportunities. I feel that this is well-aligned with the spirit of this award,” says Chan.

“This is the seventh award, and I find it heartwarming and inspiring each year to read the applications. There are really amazing students out there. I have been fortunate in my life and am grateful for the opportunity to thank an individual and recognize them for their wonderful work.”