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Julie Bassler - Robotic Lunar Lander Development Project Manager
November 19, 2009

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Name: Julie Bassler
Job Title: Robotic Lunar Lander Development Project Manager
Education: Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from Parks College of St. Louis University; Master of Science in physical science with emphasis on space science from the University of Houston
NASA Center: Marshall Space Flight Center
Hometown: Breese, Ill.
Hobby: Gardening and playing sports with my children
 

Tell us about the project that you are working on now.

What attracted you to a career in robotics?

What do you consider to be the highlight of your career?

What prepared you for your job?

Are you involved in any student robotics projects as a mentor or advisor? If so, please tell us about it.

Were you a participant in any NASA opportunities as a student? If so, please tell us about it.

What advice would you give to students interested in a career in robotics?


Tell us about the project that you are working on now.

The Robotic Lunar Lander Development Project is working in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory to create a new generation of robotic lunar landers. The project will design a lander that will help NASA achieve its science and exploration goals on the moon's surface. The lander will be about the size of a coffee table, but it will be able to conduct big science in a very small package. The lander will be capable of landing on the near side or the far side of the moon, inside or on the edge of craters, and it will be able to withstand the long, dark lunar night. Current designs are capable of operating for a minimum of six years.

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What attracted you to a career in robotics?

I grew up on a farm near a U.S. Air Force base, and I always saw the planes flying overhead. I knew that I wanted to do some kind of work that dealt with aerospace. I was always interested in science and math. My seventh- and eighth-grade teacher, Mrs. Rohr, inspired me to study science and math and look into careers in aerospace.

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What do you consider to be the highlight of your career?

Actually, my current project is the most exciting thing I have worked on in my 15 years at NASA. Working on the robotic lander is fascinating and rewarding because we have been able to develop a practical, low-cost, yet highly functional lander design and conduct tests on it within a really short amount of time. We have a small team, but we are very efficient - sort of like our lander. We like to say that we are the next generation of engineers building the next generation of robotic landers. There is so much excitement about going back to the moon. One photo of our lander testing even made it to the White House! Being able to work on such a cool project has definitely been the highlight of my career so far.

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What prepared you for your job?

I really think the main thing was the work ethic that I learned from my parents, Wendell and Lucille Loepker, while growing up in rural Illinois. My family always taught me that if you work hard and expect good things, you will be able to achieve all the goals you set for yourself. I also had a strong educational background in science, math and engineering. Of course, working at two NASA centers - Johnson Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center - and having prior experience with two NASA contractors really helped me prepare for the management portion of my career.

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Are you involved in any student robotics projects as a mentor or advisor? If so, please tell us about it.

Our project office has just begun our education and public outreach efforts, and we hope to participate in some student robotics projects in the near future. I strongly believe that we need to reach middle school students because that was the age that I became intrigued by science.

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Were you a participant in any NASA opportunities as a student? If so, please tell us about it.

No, I did not have the opportunity to participate in any NASA programs as a student. Now that I am in a management role at NASA, I try my best to help extend those opportunities to as many people as possible because I know how valuable they can be.

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What advice would you give to students interested in a career in robotics?

Get involved in any competitions and projects offered through your school, NASA, local science museums or civic programs. It is incredibly important to get experience designing and building something - no matter how small. Going through that design and build process, working with a team, and learning problem-solving skills will help you as much as anything to prepare you for a career in robotics. Also, you need to focus on science and math skills since so much of engineering is based on those core subjects.


For more information on the Robotic Lunar Lander Development Project and the NASA team building the next generation of robotic landers, visit the Marshall Space Flight Center Robotics website.


 
 
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Julie Bassler - Robotic Lunar Lander Development Project Manager
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Page Last Updated: March 26th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator