Nabil Hadjaz, who graduated from UTC in 2011, majoring in Mechanical Engineering, used to dream about becoming an astronaut. Today, he works with them, after succeeded in joining the world’s elite in space exploration. He is an engineer for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and works with NASA on the ISS (International Space Station) programme.
«Never give up and always move forward.» These are the words with which Nabil sums up his journey and track-record. His personal story is proof that determination leads to success. Born in the Val de Marne Department, 5th child in a family of 6, he grew up in a modest but rich value-added environment. His interest in science quickly focused on aerospace questions. His father, a worker, worked on the runways at Orly. It was here that the boy found himself attracted drawn to engineering: «I wanted to understand how planes flew». His mother took him to the library where he read scientific magazines. A dream came true: to become an astronaut!
After his baccalaureate S, he went to a preparatory class at a lycée. «I didn’t know how to become an engineer; I was the first in the family to do this kind of study. I stopped the preparatory class after six months, because it didn’t suit me”. Nabil did a DUT and discovered vibro-acoustics through an internship that he loved. As N°1 of his class, he was admitted to UTC in the Mechanical engineering branch and then took the elective specialty the acoustics and vibration branch for the engineer. In 2009, Nabil successfully applied his mantra: «Pure luck does not exist, you have to create your own opportunities». He obtained a scholarship to do a double degree at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada, following the meeting of a Canadian professor visiting UTC.
Nabil returned to France in 2011 and worked at Safran designing an engine for Airbus, before flying to Montreal in 2013, with his determination as his only luggage. This was followed by an exemplary career at Lockheed Martin and then at the Canadian Standards Association. A new challenge came in 2019: «At NAV Canada, I was trained as an air traffic controller, as director of operations, I decided how many planes would land at Montreal airport. A strategic job worthy of a movie: I coordinated NORAD missions to protect North American airspace by directing the fighters that took off in case of a threat. Not bad for a «Frenchy»!
In 2022, Nabil is now a Canadian citizen, and has fulfilled his dream by joining the prestigious Canadian Space Agency after a long process of interviews and security investigations: «I work as a systems engineer. Canada is in charge of the robotics part of the ISS: the arm, the mobile base and the mini robots. I liaise with international partners such as NASA and Space X. I manage the projects of MDA, the contractor that develops the Canadian hardware for the ISS. My mission is to ensure the functionality of the hardware for the safety of the astronauts and the mission. My favourite part is managing the emergency measures to protect the station!”
Nabil dreamt as he watched the space shuttle on TV, now he finds himself in a meeting with those who worked on its design. «It was super intimidating at first! But in meetings at the Space Agency, everyone respects each other and is allowed to offer their opinion or propose ideas. It’s really a fantastic working atmosphere, and it’s very exciting to work with NASA.» Nothing is impossible for those who know how to give themselves the means!
- 2007 : admitted to UTC after gaining a DUT
- 2011 : obtained a double degree UTC — University of Sherbrooke (Canada)
- 2011–2019 : engineer at Safran, Lockheed Martin and the Canadian Standards Association
- 2019 : Director of Operations, NAV Canada (air traffic control)
- 2022 : Canadian Space Agency — Senior Systems Engineer — ISS (International Space Station, NASA)