LOADING...
Text Size
Lyndon Bridgwater - Aerospace Engineer
November 9, 2009

[image-12]

Name: Lyndon Bridgwater
Job Title: Aerospace Engineer, Automation and Robotic Systems
Education: Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston
NASA Center: Johnson Space Center
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Hobby: Aikido, triathlons, scuba, FIRST Robotics competition
 

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 work in the robotics systems technology branch at NASA's Johnson Space Center. My organization develops robots to assist in the human exploration of space. I have worked on many robots - eight-legged climbing spider robots, large-diameter spherical rolling robots, all-terrain exploration rovers and dexterous humanoid robots. I am currently working on next-generation development of Robonaut. Robonaut is a dexterous humanoid robot that is developed to assist suited astronauts in performing extravehicular activities (EVA), as well as perform maintenance tasks on space hardware where it is too dangerous for astronauts. I am the subsystem lead for the forelimb and mechanical designer for the hand and head.

> Top of page

What attracted you to a career in robotics?

I always have had a strong drive to understand how everything works, taking apart almost everything I could. Robotics is best described as a diversified specialty. To be really good at robotics, one must have significant understanding of all aspects of robotics: mechanical, electrical and software. Beyond that, there is a need for an understanding of the environment and application that the robot is being designed for. Seeing how broad-reaching the scope of robotics can be, I was instantly attracted to pursuing robotics as a career.

> Top of page

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

There have been several highlights to the career I have. Some might say the moments when we give demonstrations to VIPs, dignitaries and school children of our robots. I have great joy in being able to mentor the high school robotics teams each year. Knowing how to do something is fine, but being able to pass that knowledge along to others so they may grow is far more beneficial to everyone. Though, by far, the most fulfilling moment occurred when I worked with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in developing a new prosthetic arm and hand to provide better dexterity to wounded veterans.

> Top of page

What prepared you for your job?

Participation in robotics competitions throughout high school and college (prepared me for my job). Before graduating from college, I had completed more than 20 robots for competition. The continuous improvement and failures through experimentation and being given the opportunity to put academic knowledge into real-world application provided me the most benefit.

> Top of page

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

I am a mentor for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition team 118, CCISD (Clear Creek Independent School District) high schools. I am also the lead robot inspector for the Houston FIRST robotics competition. I am the game chairperson for the Houston BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, And Technology) robotics competition. I am a referee for the local FIRST Lego League competitions.

> Top of page

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

I participated in a middle school project that placed a small science payload on the Wake Shield Facility of STS-60. I was a co-op while in college and had four tours. Three were in the robotics systems technology branch; one was in the Safety and Mission Assurance division, supporting international partners' robotics.

> Top of page

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

There is certainly a long list of advice that can be given to someone looking at any career. The traditional advice would be: Go to college, do well in school, and stay up-to-date on current events. For robotics or engineering, there is the obvious: Take lots of math and science classes, plan for college early, find a college that suits your way of learning and get to know your professors. Engineering isn't like the coursework you have in school; there are always multiple correct answers to the same problem. But some are more applicable to the situation than others, and often not obvious. The knowledge acquired by students in college is useful in understanding the world around them, but the skills needed to design, build and work in a multidiscipline team and change the world only come through experience. Project-based classes or robotics competitions are by far the best way to gain these skills. The more of these projects you are able to follow through with and take ownership of, the better off you will be.

Another great way to gain experience is to co-op with the companies that you are interested in working for. Co-oping provides an opportunity for the application of those skills you learn in class. Above all else, the most important skill to have in robotics and engineering, or any career, is the ability to communicate. You can have the greatest solution to all the world's problems, but if you are unable to communicate it, that's the same as having no ideas at all.

 



 
 
Image Token: 
[image-47]
Lyndon Bridgwater - Aerospace Engineer
Image Token: 
[image-12]
Image Token: 
[image-75]
Page Last Updated: February 27th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator