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Tess Grindlay

For a physics and astronomy student like Tess Grindlay, a summer spent working with the Canadian Space Agency on the James Webb Space Telescope is nothing short of a dream job.


Tess Grindlay is posing in a large lab building in front of machinery emblazoned with the word "Canada."
Tess Grindlay on site at the Canadian Space Agency.

“As a physics and astronomy student, I had heard about space missions when they were launching or when they made a significant discovery,” says Grindlay. It was hard to imagine getting the chance to work on one of those missions as a student. 

But Grindlay did just that when she landed a co-operative education (co-op) work term with the Canadian Space Agency last summer. Co-op offers students paid work experience in their field before they graduate. “While working at the CSA, I got the chance to experience the work that goes on at all stages of a mission,” Grindlay says.

The impact of co-op

During Tess’s time with the CSA, the James Webb Space Telescope’s first set of fully-calibrated images and spectroscopic was released. The powerful infrared telescope has been in development for over two decades and was launched December 25th, 2021, as the result of a collaborative effort between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. “Experiencing the announcement of these unprecedented, beautiful images while employed by the Canadian Space Agency and assisting on the project was so exciting to me. It is a moment I will always be grateful for and will never forget,” says Tess.

What's next

Tess is excited to continue working with the Canadian Space Agency part-time while completing her fourth year of study. “I think co-op helps students see what life could look like post-graduation, it makes the thought of employment after university less mystifying. Co-op really helped me wrap my head around what I could find myself doing after completing my university education, as well as gain related work experience.”