LOADING...
Text Size
Tristan Curry - Aerospace Engineer
September 28, 2010

[image-12]

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

Tell us about the career path that led you to your present job.

What do you think are the challenges for the future in the field of rocketry?

What was the most interesting class that you have taken to prepare you for your career?

If you could spend an hour with a person who made a significant contribution to science or rocketry, who would that person be?

Are you involved in any student rocketry 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.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with students about your career?


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

I am presently a part of the Vehicle System Management team that is currently involved with writing a document for the Constellation Program and also providing a Unified Modeling Language model to flight software for Ares I. As members of the VSM team, we work to ensure that integration and coordination occurs accurately and effectively across the subsystems and also at a vehicle level from ground-applied power through Orion separation. My specific job description within our team is dedicated to GN&C (Guidance, Navigation and Control), RINU (Redundant Inertial Navigation Unit) and RGA (Rate Gyro Assembly), which all work together on the vehicle to give specific details of where the vehicle is located all the time, the target it is planning to reach and also how to get there most efficiently.

> Top of page

Tell us about the career path that led you to your present job.

I started working for Marshall Space Flight Center while I was attending college at the University of Alabama in Huntsville to obtain my Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering. I worked at MSFC for three years in the materials division. I had the opportunity to work with critical space shuttle flight hardware, such as nose cone tiles, wing leading edge tiles and also the space shuttle main engine, using nondestructive evaluation testing. NDE testing is a way to test and analyze a piece of material without performing any form of destruction on the panel, such as blowing it up or dissecting it to find out what is wrong with the material. Towards the end of my years in school and working for MSFC, I was given the opportunity to work very closely on the Composite Crew Module for Ares I. I was able to test large-scale sections of the model to clear them of defects before being laid up on the full-scale structure. By working on the two projects described above, amongst many others, I attained enough hours in NDE to become certified. I continued to work through my college career until just after graduation, when I attained the full-time position that I currently possess.

> Top of page

What do you think are the challenges for the future in the field of rocketry?

I believe that there is one major challenge that we face in rocketry and for the future of space exploration, which is expanding our horizons to travel to places beyond where we have been in the past. The ability for humans to reach Mars and other sites beyond low Earth orbit and the moon will require the strengthening of our technology in propulsion research. To be able to reach such far distances while shortening the time that it takes to get there relies mostly on propulsion and its efficiency and abundance. I do feel that this goal is attainable, and I am sure that anyone else in the field of space exploration will agree once they look back and see all that we have accomplished thus far.

> Top of page

What was the most interesting class that you have taken to prepare you for your career?

Of all the classes that I have taken for my engineering degree, I would say that the one that prepared me the most for my career would be any and all that required me to take on group projects. Once you become a professional, you need to have strong time-management skills and be efficient in communicating with others in a group. The group projects that were required within my engineering courses had to be completed outside of class and other school-related tasks, which meant that my time management between class and also work needed to be accurately balanced for me to succeed in both. This applies to the professional realm of work, because there will always be more than one task that needs to be completed, and already having that background on how to balance priorities and excel in everything that is given to you will greatly benefit your work ethic. Communication is also key in the engineering field. There will always be teams of either small or large groups that you need to work with to meet a deadline, design a product or work to ensure that it all comes together perfectly. Having the background of communicating ideas and issues within groups from college will show through as a young and growing engineer.

> Top of page

If you could spend an hour with a person who made a significant contribution to science or rocketry, who would that person be?

If I had the opportunity to spend an hour with one person that has made a significant contribution to rocketry, it would be Mr. [Wernher] von Braun. I would love to have the chance to talk with him about the dreams that he had, how he planned to achieve all of them, and most importantly how he fought against the adversity of his aspirations. In a time where our traditions as Americans in space are being altered, it would be refreshing to hear about how our former leaders in space exploration handled these same situations.

> Top of page

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

For the Summer of Innovation project, I was the "Rocketry" spokeswoman on NASA's Digital Learning Network at Marshall. I took part in a live webcast on two different occasions within one week in August that was shown all over the United States. The Summer of Innovation project is closely aligned with President Obama's Educate to Innovate campaign, which strives to engage middle school and high school students in the fields of science and technology. For the duration of the summer, each NASA site was given a theme. One person at each site was chosen to work with that theme to give webcasts for one week, providing information about their careers to aspiring young engineers, scientists and astronauts.

> Top of page

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

During the summer of 2004, just prior to my senior year in high school, I was selected to be a part of the Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program (SHARP) project. As a SHARP student, I was able to work at MSFC for the entire summer within the materials group, where I was first introduced to non-destructive evaluation. The eight-week project opened my eyes up to all of the various fields of engineering, and I knew that was what I was going to become: an engineer.

> Top of page

Is there anything else that you would like to share with students about your career?

Some advice that I would like to share for students that are planning to obtain engineering degrees is this very important bit of information: work experience. Throughout your years of engineering school, you will be introduced to all of the various structures, methods and skills that are needed to become a successful engineer, but the one aspect of your career that you will more than likely not learn in the classroom is work experience. I worked my entire college career, sometimes close to full-time. I learned how the workplace functioned; I met many people and showed them what kind of employee that I would be one day; and most of all, I learned many objectives that also helped me to decide what exactly I wanted to do once I did graduate. When I interviewed for the job that I currently have, my potential employer (at the time) was most of all impressed with the work experience that I had already obtained. Having had direct work experience before you graduate will benefit you more greatly than you would think.

Related Resources:

> NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
> NASA Education
> Wernher von Braun   →


David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services

Image Token: 
[image-47]
Tristan Curry
Name: Tristan Curry Job Title: Launch Vehicle Systems Analyst Education: B.S. in aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville NASA Center: Marshall Space Flight Center Hometown: Athens, Ala. Hobby: Spending time with my family and friends, decorating my new home, painting
Image Credit: 
NASA
Image Token: 
[image-12]
Image Token: 
[image-75]
Page Last Updated: April 9th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator