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Lou Ramon - Division Technical Manager for Software, Robotics and Simulation
November 12, 2009

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Name: Lou Ramon
Job Title: Division Technical Manager: Software, Robotics and Simulation, Jacobs Technology - Engineering, Science Contract Group
Education: Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Calif.; graduate courses at the University of California at Los Angeles, University of Houston and Boeing Leadership Center
NASA Center: Johnson Space Center
Hometown: Born in Rahway, N.J.; grew up in Alhambra, Calif.
Hobby: Bicycling and participating in middle school and high school robotics competitions
 

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.

I am currently the Division Technical Manager for Software, Robotics and Simulation. I am responsible for all the products and engineering services that Jacobs Technology provides for the Software, Robotics and Simulation Division at NASA's Johnson Space Center. These projects range from development and operation of simulators for shuttle, space station and Constellation* programs; providing engineering services for analysis and subsystem management of the space shuttle and space station robotic systems, the Constellation software development, and the space station and space shuttle crew exercise equipment; and providing engineering services for the development of robotics technology advanced development projects such as the Lunar Electric Rover.

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What attracted you to a career in robotics?

After I completed an assignment as an experiments procedures officer and principal investigator for the Skylab space station program, my section in the Mission Operations Directorate was looking for someone to take the lead for flight operations for the Space Shuttle Remote Manipulator (robotic arm), which was just starting its development. It sounded like a fascinating new area with lots of new things for me to learn about, so I volunteered. That was my introduction to robotics.

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

That's a difficult one to answer, so I'll give you a couple of highlights. I was the Lunar Module Crew Station engineer on the five-person Flight Crew Support Team that directly worked with and supported the Apollo 11 crew. Being responsible to the Apollo 11 astronauts for all of the equipment they came in contact with that was on and in the Lunar Module for the first lunar landing (and working closely with them) has to be a very big highlight. I also worked on the development and was the lead for engineering operations for the space shuttle Manned Maneuvering Unit. Seeing it fly for the first time was another major highlight. Maybe the biggest thing for me, personally, was when I was awarded a Silver Snoopy from the Astronaut Office for my cumulative work on the development of extravehicular activities and robotics as operational capabilities.

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What prepared you for your job?

I had a good background in aerospace engineering at Cal Poly University. While I was at Cal Poly, I worked summers and holidays at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. While at NASA's Johnson Space Center and with various aerospace contractors … my willingness to seek out new opportunities and challenges in my career and to constantly want to learn new things both prepared me for the work I am doing now and provided me the opportunity to grow technically and advance professionally.

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

I consider myself as a facilitator, more than a mentor. For the past several years, I have been involved in the planning and execution of robotics competitions for FIRST, the FIRST Lego League and BEST. (FIRST stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." BEST stands for "Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology.") I have volunteered to help the robotics competitions be successful events and have served as a judge in these competitions.

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

As I mentioned earlier, I worked summers and holidays at the Jet Propulsion Lab. JPL is a NASA facility that is operated by Cal Tech. So while I didn't work for NASA itself, my work at JPL was as part of the NASA program. At JPL, I worked in the aerodynamic facilities as a technician and engineering aide in the supersonic and hypersonic wind tunnels there. I still have some of the "used" wind tunnel models of the Apollo Command Module that were given to me when I left JPL. I believe my experience as a co-op at JPL directly influenced the job offer I got from NASA Johnson Space Center when I graduated from Cal Poly.

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

Learn all you can. Try to expose yourself to as many different aspects of robotics as you can. Don't be shy about taking on new challenges and responsibilities, and learning new things. Dive in, and, as a friend and mentor of mine always told me, "Enjoy the adventure." You can't even begin to imagine all the exciting things you are going to encounter in your career.


*The Constellation program is no longer an active NASA program.

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Lou Ramon - Division Technical Manager for Software, Robotics and Simulation
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Page Last Updated: March 26th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator