From Young Programmer to IT Director
NASA's Mike Bolger discovered his talent for computer programming as a teenager when his dad brought home a computer.
"I soon recognized the power of being able to write a program that endlessly scrolled disparaging remarks about my brother," joked Bolger.
Despite his mother's reprimand, his love of computer science continued to grow. He began working on his bachelor's degree in that field at Indiana University. Following his sophomore year, he left Indiana's frigid weather for a NASA co-op position on Florida's sunny "Space Coast." Three co-op terms and three years later he accepted a position to work full-time at Kennedy Space Center.
That was 22 years ago. Today, Bolger has advanced to become Kennedy's director of Information Technology and Communication Services. He leads strategic planning for the organization, manages resources and represents the directorate within Kennedy and across the agency.
Image to right: Portrait of Mike Bolger, director of Information Technology and Communication Services. Credit: NASA
Bolger also serves as Kennedy's chief information officer, or CIO. He partners with the agency's Office of the CIO and other NASA center CIOs to guarantee Kennedy's information technology policy and systems are aligned with the rest of the agency.
Prior to his appointment, he worked in various technical, business and leadership positions at Kennedy. He developed shuttle processing ground software and managed software configuration for the firing rooms, which serve as the nerve center for launch and orbiter processing. Bolger had technical management responsibility for the Joint Base Operations Support Contract encompassing Kennedy and nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. He gained additional experience during a work detail with the Chief Financial Officer, and supported NASA's 2004-2005 hurricane recovery effort.
"Wherever I've worked, I'm proud of the positive relationships that I've developed with subordinates, peers, contractors and senior managers as together we've established an environment of trust and accountability with one another," said Bolger, who also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Central Florida.
The 140 government employees Bolger manages are working on several initiatives. The team is modernizing communication systems, developing new technology to support current programs and the Constellation Program, strengthening the launch readiness process and improving contract surveillance methods. The team also is enhancing centerwide security processes for information technology, also known as IT.
Kennedy's IT leadership team is experienced and savvy, according to Bolger.
"The engineers, IT professionals and business support personnel are talented and enthusiastic," he explains. "My real challenge is to be an effective advocate for all the great ideas that people have."
Jennifer Wolfinger and Anna Heiney
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center