Norah Patten, Dr.

Aeronautical Engineer, Citizen Scientist-Astronaut Candidate, Changemaker

Inspires others to shoot for the stars 

Biography

Dr. Norah Patten has been on a mission since the age of 11 to become Ireland’s first person in space. She is passionate about using her experience to encourage both young and old to shoot for the stars. Norah is an excellent communicator who has shared her inspiring lifelong journey on national television and radio, and in numerous interviews and keynote speeches in which her warmth and her passion for science shine through. Her determination and enthusiasm leave a lasting impression. 

Norah grew up in the west of Ireland, but a family trip to NASA in Cleveland aged 11 became the start of a lifelong dream to travel to space. Today she is a faculty member at the International Space University, and in 2017 became Ireland’s first citizen scientist-astronaut candidate with Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere). 

Norah has participated in several citizen science campaigns including microgravity research flight, spacesuit testing and evaluation, high-g flights and spacecraft egress.  In 2019, she released her children’s book Shooting for the Stars (O’Brien Press), which won An Post Children’s Book of the Year (senior category). Through a partnership with U.S. company NanoRacks, the leading provider of commercial access to space, Norah initiated and managed ‘The Only Way is Up’ project, which launched Ireland’s first student experiment to the International Space Station in 2014. She also participated in the International Space University Space Studies Program in 2010, holds a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Limerick and has industrial experience from The Boeing Company and Bells Labs Alcatel Lucent.  

Some of the clients that have booked Norah recently include Vodafone, Datalex, Pfizer and Ernst & Young. 

Topics

Inspiration: How I fell in love with SPACE
Norah first fell in love with SPACE at the age of 11 during a family visit to Cleveland where she got to visit NASA.  In this talk, Norah draws on her lifelong personal journey to get to space, encouraging and motivating others to shoot for the stars and to make a start, however small at first, on realising their dreams. 

Performance: No one reaches Space in a day
There are huge lessons to be taken from the approach and resilience exercised by any Space team. In this inspirational talk Norah shares the importance of: Taking Small Steps – Analysing and measuring results and mistakes – Learning from mistakes – Working collectively – Keeping an eye on the bigger picture – Celebrating the Wins. This talk is ideal for anyone wanting to motivate and help their team performance and mindset. 

Education: Kids in STEAM
Having realised her dream so young because she was lucky enough to visit NASA, Norah recognises the positive and enduring influence of teachers, family and mentors on her quest to reach space.

Norah is an advocate of educating and inspiring young people about space from a young age and on through their teens and beyond. As part of her journey she has written the award-winning book Shooting for the Stars and also created Planet Zebunar to inspire the next generation of engineers, astronauts, scientists and innovators. This talk is ideal if you’re organising a family day, developing content for youth or want to inspire young people to follow their dreams.  

Diversity: Women in STEAM
As a woman in STEAM, Norah talks about the advances and challenges in the area and how we as parents, friends, teams can do better to support more women in STEAM. It is not just about gender parity; we need more women in STEAM roles if we are to make scientific innovations useful. How relevant can innovations really be if they do not even take into consideration the needs of half the population?

Videos

Testimonials

“Norah Patten joined us as part of launching our new company name to our team which echoed Norah’s talk that gave real meaning to the often neglected importance of “Believing in Your Dreams”. Her message was loud and clear, if you don’t have a goal you can’t score. Our Team found Norah’s presenting style engaging and relaxed and they left the session feeling inspired. Norah’s advocacy for STEM is deeply encouraging and hearing how she supports initiatives that bring young people particularly young women to actively engage in STEM related education and activities is very motivating.’ As a fellow UL Graduate (well before Norah!!) from the Engineering fraternity it was an absolute pleasure and we are looking forward to the next time Norah can come to visit our facilities!” Lorraine Corcoran, Technical Director, Lynoslife 

“Hearing the inspirational story of Dr. Norah Patten‘s lifelong personal journey to get to space, encouraging and motivating others to shoot for the stars is really inspiring!” Datalex 

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