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Volume 46 | Issue 6 | July 30, 2004

People and Places

For Dryden Kids, A Day at the Office

Ken Norlin helps Eddie Patterson fly the C-17 simulator.
Dryden's Ken Norlin helps Eddie Patterson fly the C-17 simulator.
NASA Photo by Tom Tschida

By Sara Merlin
X-Press Assistant Editor

Sons and daughters, stepchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins, siblings, neighbors' kids - on Take Your Children to Work Day, a host of fresh faces dotted the Dryden landscape as kids of all ages walked a few miles in the grown-ups' shoes and got a taste of what it would be like to work for NASA.

Some 300 youngsters spent the day June 22 on the heels of employees, touring shops and hangars, checking out aircraft, flight simulators, mission control rooms and office cubicles. In the process, officials hoped to open young eyes to career possibilities in the world of aerospace.

"This gives parents a unique opportunity to help children make the crucial correlation between education and future career choices," said Center Director Kevin Petersen. "It's also a wonderful opportunity for children to catch a glimpse of what their parents do each day when they go to work."

Leah Robson, left, and Bridgette Puljiz get a look at the NASA 747 from the co-pilot's seat.
Leah Robson, left, and Bridgette Puljiz get a look at the NASA 747 from the co-pilot's seat.
NASA Photo by Tom Tschida

The crowds of youngsters, many sporting t-shirts commemorating their visit, were given up-close looks at the cockpit of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 747, Dryden's F-18 test aircraft, life-support gear and pressure suits and mission control rooms. A lunchtime barbecue was held in the Shuttle hangar.

For several students, though, the hands-down highlight of the day's events was the chance to try their piloting skills in flight simulators.

"The sims were the best thing," said Aaron Pacino, 11, a student at Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale. Becoming a pilot held allure for Pacino, though he also cited the Marine Corps and professional dirt bike riding as possible career paths.

"I crashed," admitted 14-year-old Ronald Howells, a student at Bakersfield West Middle School. "But it was great."

Dryden's Byron Simpson helps Nicole Schultheiss get a feel for the F-18 simulator cockpit.

Dryden's Byron Simpson helps Nicole Schultheiss get a feel for the F-18 simulator cockpit.
NASA Photo by Tom Tschida

Sonic booms that rattled buildings during their visit generated excitement for others, like 7-year-old Carly Thomas and 10-year-old Emily May. May, a student at Esperenza Elementary in Palmdale, also expressed interest in learning more about "how the Shuttles get up there" and stopped by the Dryden public affairs office - along with a friend, 10-year-old Kaitlin Mackes - to pick up printed materials on the Shuttles, the SCA and the Shuttle Columbia mission before leaving for the day.

Dryden food service employee Latoya Lucas brought along her daughter, five-year-old Tatiana Faust, and cousin, Chaunci Webster, 12, both students in Canyon Country schools. Webster said she might enjoy being a Dryden tour guide someday, and, between bites of an orange-flavored, rocket-shaped Pop-up, Tatiana said she had fun "learning about airplanes."

Some Dryden employees observed that getting their charges to join them for a day at work wasn't a tough sell.

A group of future Dryden scientists try some of the same food - which comes in tooth-paste-like containers - used by high-altitude pilots on long missions.
A group of future Dryden scientists try some of the same food - which comes in tooth-paste-like containers - used by high-altitude pilots on long missions.
NASA Photo by Tom Tschida

They've been bugging me to get them to an event like this," said systems analyst Michael Greenwood, a New Millennium employee. Greenwood had in tow his son, 10-year-old Jeffrey, a student at Rolling Hills Elementary in Amarillo, Texas, and grandchildren, Chris, 13, and Michelle, 14, both students at Ridgecrest middle schools. Michelle expressed interest in becoming an astronaut while her brother, Chris, said he bet the Wright brothers could have gotten their entire 1903 flyer inside the confines of the SCA.

Flight systems engineer Mark Mackes, AS&M, said he noticed that, unlike on many school-day mornings at his house, daughter Kaitlin and her friend Emily May "got up with no problem" to make the trek with him to Dryden.

Event coordinator Carmen Arevalo had a special thank-you for Dryden employees from Shuttle Area A, Security and Public Affairs, the Dryden Exchange Council and all employees who assisted with the simulators and with the groups of kids and parents taking part in the day's activities.

Additional photos may be viewed at /centers/dfrc/Features/2004/kidstowork.html.