Steven MacLean, president of the Canadian Space Agency from 2008 to 2013, received an honorary doctorate from Université du Québec under the aegis of INRS University, in recognition of his brilliant career as a physicist, astronaut, and manager for scientific and technological advancement in space and his commitment to support the dissemination of scientific culture among youth. Tribute was paid to Mr. MacLean at the convocation ceremony, which took place in Montreal on May 25, 2013.
"You don't have to go to outer space to be proud of your achievement. Just be an analytical observer and hold your head up high. Be proud of your Quebec university. Trust your training ! And above all else, be proud of what you have just accomplished here today. Don't be afraid. Keep looking up in the sky and never stop marveling at the amazing phenomena of your own rainbow!" This was just one of the messages in the speech Mr. MacLean delivered to the new graduates.
A leading figure in the Canadian space adventure, Mr. MacLean is currently part of a quantum physics research team at the University of Waterloo Institute for Quantum Computing. As visiting professor at the INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre, he plays a key role in the collaboration between these two universities under a femtosecond laser applications program.
From Earth to outer space
A physicist by training known for his science and management skills, Mr. MacLean has contributed to Canada's leadership in space and the promotion of space innovation by focusing on university research. Selected to be on the Canadian Space Agency's first team of astronauts under the Canadian Astronaut Program in 1983, he was the Program Manager for the Advanced Space Vision System associated with the Canadarm and Canadarm2 robotic arms and oversaw the development of a laser camera system. Both of these systems are still in operation at the International Space Station. He then assumed the role of Astronaut Advisor to the Strategic Technologies in Automation and Robotics Program and was appointed Director General of the Canadian Astronaut Program and Chief Astronaut and President of the Canadian Space Agency. He has also held various positions at NASA, notably Chief Science Advisor for the International Space Station.
Steven MacLean is the second Canadian to walk in space and the first to operate the Canadarm2. He took part in two space missions: one in 1992 aboard Space Shuttle Colombia and the other in 2006 aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station. During these two voyages into space, he conducted a number of scientific experiments in space technology, space science, materials processing, and life sciences with terrestrial applications in widely divergent areas. He also captured digital images of Canada's geographical features, which were used to study global warming and deforestation.
The author of twenty-odd scientific and technical articles, Steven MacLean is highly respected in academia and industry both here and abroad. Three NASA medals and three honorary doctorates are among the national and international distinctions that have marked his professional career.
Institut national de recherche scientifique (INRS) is a university dedicated to research and graduate studies, and ranks first in Canada for research intensity (average grant funding per faculty member). INRS brings together some 150 professors and close to 700 students and postdoctoral fellows at its four research centres in Montreal, Quebec City, Laval, and Varennes. Its applied and fundamental research is essential to the advancement of science in Quebec, Canada and internationally even as it plays a key role in the development of concrete solutions to the problems faced by our society.