Tell us about the career path that led you to your present job.
Tim Moes -- Project Manager
I started working for NASA as a college student in the Cooperative Education (Co-op) Program while I was studying aeronautical engineering at Purdue University. My academic emphasis was aerodynamics. My interest was in aeronautical flight research, which is why I went to Dryden Flight Research Center as opposed to a space center. I was able to get a master's degree at Stanford University under the NASA Graduate Study Program. For the next 20 years, I was actively involved in many flight research programs. Most of those years were spent as an aerodynamics researcher. About five years ago, I spent one year at NASA HQ working programmatic issues with the Aeronautics Mission Directorate. After that, I became an aeronautics project manager. I managed a couple of very interesting projects and then had the opportunity to become a project manager in the Science Mission Directorate, which is where I currently work.
What attracted you to your career? When did you know you wanted this career?
Engineering seemed very interesting and NASA in particular. I've always enjoyed airplanes, so it was a natural decision.
What was the most interesting class that you have taken to prepare you for your career?
I cannot pick one. I enjoyed most of my technical classes. It is fun when you understand why calculus is actually important and useful. I really enjoyed thermodynamics and realized it was foundational to many of my upper-division aero courses.
What do you think are the challenges for the future in your field?
As a project manager for the government, challenges are for sustained government investment in science. Technically, the challenge is how to get the most bang for the buck. There is a lot more interesting science work to do than there is funding. So the challenge is to prioritize correctly.
What do you consider to be the highlight of your career?
I don't have one. As a researcher, it was nice to publish results that were meaningful. As a manager, it is nice to have a project succeed (and preferably under budget and ahead of schedule).
G-III FLIGHT MISSION ROLE
Tell us about the project that you are working on now.
I manage the Gulfstream III aircraft project known as Uninhabited Air Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar, or UAVSAR. The name is a misnomer as the G-III is flown with crew on board, but the sensor was designed to fly on uninhabited vehicles such as the Global Hawk. I don't manage the science, but I manage the aircraft and its development and missions. Missions include local flights out of our facility in Palmdale, Calif., and deployments to various domestic and foreign sites. The purpose of the UAVSAR is to measure surface deformations (such as seen in fault lines and volcanoes), terrestrial ecology (forest bio-mass), soil moisture and many other applications.
What specific responsibilities do you have that are related to G-III flight missions?
My responsibilities are to ensure adequate funding and system development for successful, safe and efficient operations.
ADDITIONAL ADVICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
Would you like to "bust" any myth about engineering? What would you say?
Engineers are pretty nerdy, but we get to do a variety of fun and interesting tasks.
What advice would you give to students interested in a career in your field?
Student internships are great. As a student, you'll be able to experience the career field and see if it is something you'd be interested in doing long-term. You also get to build your resume, and your intern experience may give you an advantage when it is hiring time.
Related NASA Articles:
› Biography (6.30.09)
› NASA G-III Flies Hawaiian Volcanoes Radar Mission (5.13.11)
› NASA Blogs: Soil-Moisture Research From the Air – Don't Rain on My Parade! (6.11.10)