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Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield talks about his life growing up wanting to be an astronaut and being able to realize that dream during We Day celebrations at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Sept. 20, 2013. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield talks about his life growing up wanting to be an astronaut and being able to realize that dream during We Day celebrations at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Sept. 20, 2013. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield takes teaching post at University of Waterloo Add to ...

Retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has landed his next job, signing on as a professor of aviation at the University of Waterloo.

Though his appointment as an adjunct professor has officially begun, Prof. Hadfield isn’t expected to begin teaching and advising in aviation and other programs until the fall of 2014, given his busy schedule. In the meantime, he will continue participating in research into heart health in space that is already under way at Waterloo.

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“This is a tremendous opportunity for our students and researchers to work with, and learn from, one of the greatest Canadians of recent times,” Waterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur said in a statement.

Prof. Hadfield is a decorated astronaut who captured Canadians’ interest and gained global prominence with a recent five-month visit to the International Space Station, when he became the first Canadian to command the laboratory. He earned praise for using Twitter to give those on Earth a glimpse inside life on the space station, and to disseminate remarkable photos of the planet from above.

The director of the university’s aviation program, Ian McKenzie, first began courting Prof. Hadfield this past summer, around the time of his retirement from the Canadian Space Agency. The astronaut’s ability to connect with diverse audiences from the space station gave the university confidence he would make a good teacher, and aviation is a young program that could benefit from his profile, having started in 2007 – when Mr. Hadfield was keynote speaker at its launch.

“Chris has been involved with the university for many years,” Prof. McKenzie said, adding, “he’s quite engaging.”

Raised in Milton, Ont., Prof. Hadfield first worked at the University of Waterloo in 1982, conducting postgraduate research after earning a degree in engineering at the Royal Military College of Canada. He is a trained CF-18 fighter pilot, and first was one of four new Canadian astronauts selected from a field of 5,330 applicants in 1992, launching his career with the Canadian Space Agency and NASA.

His areas of teaching and research have yet to be defined, but he is expected to teach both undergraduate and graduate students. In the meantime, he will give a guest lecture at the university on Dec. 3, and is cross-appointed to the Faculties of Science, Environment and Applied Health Sciences.

“Chris crosses a number of faculties with his experience, and so the opportunities are there,” Prof. McKenzie said. “He’s very keen.”

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