Working at Goddard Paves Way for New Career
June 22, 2011
Andrew Hoffmaster's globetrotting work at Goddard has paved his way for his new job developing prosthetic devices for those in need.
Catholic University of America
What is most interesting about your role here at Goddard?
There are three rooms of interns in Building 25 and I have my own desk area where I do most of my work. All the interns in my building meet with the electronics and software team every morning. My team and I write the different codes, which will allow us to communicate by satellite with “Grover,” a robot being sent to Greenland. Then, every afternoon, we test our codes to make sure they are correct. Grover is our main project and it is important that we get our work with him done. Mostly everything I do is systems related and corresponds with Grover.
Teamwork is very important. There are three smaller projects, but they all are a part of a bigger project to which all of us contribute. My team, about 20 interns, works together in accomplishing our project assignments and duties.
How did you find out about the opportunity here at Goddard?
This is my third summer here at Goddard. I first heard about Goddard’s internship program through a friend’s dad. He works here and really encouraged me to apply. I am glad that I did or I would have missed out on some awesome trips and projects.
Who is the most interesting, inspiring, or amazing person you have met or worked with here at Goddard?
|› View larger image
Andrew Hoffmaster beside the robot GROVER. Credit: A. Hoffmaster
My mentor, Mike Comberiate, is a Systems Engineer here. He has been a great boss and mentor to me while I have been here at Goddard. This past year I went on a trip with him to Antarctica to work on the Polar Operational Environmental Satellites, which are weather satellites. It was a great trip and experience. Not many people get the chance to visit somewhere like Antarctica so I was really grateful I got to accompany him on the journey.
How will this opportunity help you reach your future goals (job experience, college, career goals etc?)
I was given real-world experience through my internship experience here at Goddard. I just graduated college, so being here for three summers has really prepared me for the real world and my job that I am starting in the fall in Ashburn, Virginia. Although my new job is not in the same field, I really enjoyed watching and learning everything I have done here.
What event/activity/project are you most excited about or have done at Goddard?
Going to Antarctica was probably the highlight of my time here at Goddard. The trip was so rewarding and amazing. Not only did I get to visit a really cool place, but I got to work on actual NASA projects and see how it all works.
What makes Goddard a great place to work?
The people here are so friendly and eager to share. It’s hard to feel out of place when working here. Everyone that I have had the privilege to work with enjoys what they do and wants to show you what they have contributed to the Goddard family. This experience with my coworkers here has allowed to form great relationships that I know have bettered me and will help me in my future work experience.
What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their internship at Goddard?
|› View larger image
Andrew Hoffmaster in Antarctica. Credit: A. Hoffmaster
Don’t be afraid to try new things. There is always going to be something you do not feel comfortable doing, but sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and do it anyway. Learning and trying new things is part of growing as a person.|
What are your hobbies outside of the workplace?
I enjoy playing golf with my dad. I was a pitcher on the baseball team at Catholic University of America. It was a lot fun and I made a lot of good friends on the team. My grandparents live on a big plot of land where my family gets together to swim and fish.
Is there something surprising about you that you think people would not generally know?
In college I used to work as a bouncer at a nightclub. Most people wouldn’t know that because I am not too big into partying, but I am 6’4 so I could seem to intimidating to people who don’t know me.
Do you have a favorite book, magazine, movie, or TV show?
I really enjoy watching Entourage. It portrays such a crazy life in Hollywood and keeps me interested. I think people enjoy watching things that are different from their own lives and that show is very different from mine.
Is there some place in the world that you want to visit, or some place you have been and want to go back to?
On our way back from Antarctica, we stopped in New Zealand and Australia. I loved New Zealand. On top of the beautiful scenery, the people there were so friendly. It would be great to go back for a vacation.
What three famous people do you admire and tell me what you admire about them.
Well the first person is obviously Cal Ripken. I admire his commitment and love of the game. He is so down to earth despite being so successful. I also really like Steven Colbert from Comedy Central. He isn’t afraid to tell it like is while being intellectual at the same time. The last person would have to be a man named Dean Kamen. He invented the Segway and also a robotic arm that has the closest range of motion to a real arm. Since my major was biomedical engineering, I am interested in stuff like that. It’s amazing what kind of technology people use and come up with these days.
› More Conversations With Goddard
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.