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.
Spacecraft power systems analyst
Image Credit: NASA
What that means:
I perform analyses related to the parts of a spacecraft that provide power (solar arrays, fuel cells), store power (batteries), and distribute power to the various spacecraft subsystems.
What I do:
I work on a lot of different missions - some of them are just conceptual while others are actual spacecraft the agency is planning to fly. The work I do includes deciding what type of solar arrays, batteries and power electronics a spacecraft needs, calculating the size and mass of each of those components, and analyzing how each of those components will operate in space.
The coolest / most interesting part of my job is:
I think the coolest part of my job is that I get to do something I love every day! I often find myself thinking, "I can't believe they pay me to do this!" It's very rewarding to think that the work that I do could one day contribute to a real spacecraft that launches into space!
My favorite project that I have worked, or that I am working on, is:
My favorite project I have worked on is the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle. I was tasked with figuring out how much power the spacecraft could lose if the engine plumes (exhaust) of some small thrusters on the vehicle (called reaction control system thrusters) hit the solar arrays. I ended up finding out that it wouldn't be too much of a problem (phew!), and even got to present the results of my work at an international conference.
The accomplishment that I am most proud of is:
I'm most proud of getting a job with NASA! I've wanted to work here my whole life, and it was like a dream come true when all the hard work I put into my studies finally paid off.
A Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education helped me by:
My STEM education helped me gain the skills I needed to learn to do my job. It might surprise you that the topics that I learned about in school didn't have much to do with the work I do now. However, learning those topics, doing my homework and studying taught me the processes of solving problems and teaching myself technical material, which are so important in an industry where much of what you need to know must be learned on the job.
Good advice for students, including STEM students, is:
Figure out where you want your education to take you, and don't give up until you have exactly what you want!