Thousands of talented, dedicated and passionate people work at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. They are rocket scientists and engineers. They are researchers and physicists and chemists. They are aviation specialists, public affairs officers, administrative assistants, security officers, logistics managers and more. With countless specializations in myriad fields, the people of Glenn share one goal: working for the public in support of NASA's mission.
The diverse Glenn workforce is comprised of civil servants and on-site support contractors. Workers perform a large variety of different jobs at NASA Glenn. "My Job at NASA Glenn" is a series that introduces some of these workers. Learn about different employees and the interesting jobs they perform, and how their education prepared them to make unique and important contributions to NASA.
Image Credit: NASA Job Title:
Electrical Engineer in the Photovoltaics and Power Technologies Branch
What that means:
Research and development engineering in the area of space solar power.
What I do:
I do experimental research to improve the efficiency and radiation tolerance of solar cells for space applications. I also am the technical manager for work being performed outside of NASA on developing new solar arrays.
The coolest /most interesting part of my job is:
I've been trained to operate an organometallic vapor phase epitaxy (OMVPE) semiconductor growth system. This system allows for highly controlled crystal growth of semiconductor materials used for photovoltaics. Part of the work involves handling toxic and pyrophoric materials so I sometimes wear a flame retardant jumpsuit with a self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). It usually gets some interesting looks from visitors to the lab.
My favorite project that I have worked, or that I am working on, is:
Last year I traveled to Johnson Space Center to support the delivery of two retractable roll out solar arrays for the multi-mission space exploration vehicle (MMSEV) demonstration. The solar arrays were developed to provide power to the MMSEV and retract for maneuvering the vehicle around an asteroid or other object. The arrays were developed under multiple research programs that I helped support so it was fulfilling to see the hardware being used on such an exciting demonstration project. While there, I also got to tour a variety of demonstration mock-ups and some astronaut training facilities.
The accomplishment that I am most proud of is:
Completing my master's degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University.
A Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education helped me by:
My STEM experiences in college opened up the doorway to NASA. I was fortunate to be involved in research projects early in my undergraduate studies, which made me stand out when looking for co-op opportunities.
Good advice for students, including STEM students, is:
Throughout school some assignments are not going to interest you, but most can be viewed from a different perspective or tailored to a certain topic that actually fits your interests. Don't be afraid to incorporate your hobbies and passions into your work.
How do you "dream big?"
I dream big by asking lots of questions and asking to be involved in different projects and programs throughout the center and in the community.
Who inspired you to "dream big" and how or what did they do that inspired you?
I had some excellent science and math teachers in high school who encouraged me to ask questions and seek my own way of understanding the coursework.
What do you do to inspire others to "dream big?"
I think that I inspire others through mentoring high school and college students through the internship programs at GRC. I let my interns take ownership of their projects and encourage them to try new methods and assure them that it's okay to make mistakes along the way.