Aerospace Engineer Mark Branch's Equation for Happiness - Do What You Love
Aerospace Engineer Mark Branch has found the equation to enjoying life. His science of happiness: Do what you love.
Group Leader, Electromagnetic Test Engineering and Integration Branch
Formal Job Classification:
Organization He Works For:
549, Environmental Test Engineering and Integration Branch, Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate
What is most interesting about your role here at Goddard?
Working at Goddard was a childhood dream. It’s a thrill to be here and to touch things that will eventually go into space. When I see a satellite launch, it makes me happy knowing that good science is being produced and that I contributed to the success of the mission in some way. The Environmental Test Branch and the entire test complex are vitally important to the success of every mission. I’ve been happy to be here for over a decade and I haven’t gone anywhere because I love it–plain and simple.
The Environmental Test Branch supports almost every project that comes through Goddard. My group is responsible for testing the electromagnetic environment that a spacecraft will encounter in space and at the launch pad. In our building, we have a large clean room
|› Larger image
Photo of Mark Branch. Credit: M. Branch
and a small test facility. We also have a world-class remote facility dedicated to testing the magnetic environment of space and for determining the magnetic signature of a spacecraft. I make sure that the equipment is ready and that the manpower and safety forms are in place before any tests are conducted.
We have a series of amplifiers, antennas, and spectrum analyzers that conduct two different types of tests: emissions and susceptibility. The emissions tests measure the electromagnetic radiation. If a piece of equipment’s electromagnetic radiation is over a certain level, then it has the potential to interfere with other pieces of the satellite or other instruments in close proximity.
What makes Goddard a great place for you to work?
I love working at Goddard because there are a lot of great minds here dedicated to making our science program the best in the world. It’s been an honor for me to serve on the team that has produced such great science and has helped our country and all of mankind. But Goddard is also a place to be happy. It’s not just about work all of the time. There are a variety of groups that echo any one of your personal interests, from Frisbee® to martial arts. There are beautiful spaces that just let you think and get your mind right.
|› Larger image
Photo of Mark Branch deejaying at Goddard Day in 2009. Credit: M. Branch
What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done as part of your job at Goddard?
The coolest thing I’ve ever done is outreach. A highlight of my career is talking to kids in underserved communities. I love going into a predominately African-American school and letting the students know that I am here at Goddard so that they can see somebody who looks like them in a place like this. I met a group of troubled youth at the beginning of one school year, and I challenged them to meet their goals and graduate to the next level. If they succeeded I’d give them each $100. At the end of the year, I had a crisp $100 bill for six of the seven young men. That was touching moment for me because these young men had met somebody who cared. It’s all about love and wanting to see people be successful, especially those who may have been handed a raw deal in life.
Your alternate persona as “DJ Scientific” is well known at Goddard. How did you get involved in DJ’ing?
I’ve been DJ’ing since 1983. I just honed my skills over the years and now I’m a world class DJ. I’ve DJ’d all across the county including NFL and NBA events and parties large and small. I love doing it. I know I’m blessed. I don’t just play music; it’s a vehicle for me to expand love.
If you could meet anyone past or present, who would it be and what would you say?
If I could, I would talk to my father and tell him thank you. He passed the year after I started at Goddard. He saw me graduate from college with two degrees: physics and engineering physics. That was a proud day and he was there. He got me my first apartment, paid my first couple months’ rent, and sent me on my way. I would say to him, “Thank you for being a good example of what a man should be in life.” He was a man of integrity. I try to walk in that same light. I’d also say to him, “Thank you for showing me how to walk in that light.”
› More Conversations With Goddard
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.