Erica Jones: Contract Specialist
What I do every day may not seem like the most glamorous side of spaceflight. I am a contract specialist, which means I wear many hats on many different days. I am a numbers-cruncher. A resource coordinator. A negotiator. A financial consultant. I am part bean-counter, part innovator -- and I bring space closer to Earth.
The result? My work gives engineers the sophisticated tools they need to build spacecraft profoundly more safe, reliable and versatile than any in recorded history. I help make sure technologists have the materials and hardware they need to probe the depths of the solar system, and to send astronauts back and forth to the International Space Station – the only off-world research facility. My work gives scientists state-of-the-art resources to learn about the cosmos -- and to solve environmental, medical and social problems right here on Earth.
I lived all over the place as a kid -- Chicago, Louisiana, Georgia, even Germany -- but never gave a thought to the things these locations all had in common: the limitless space overhead and the variety of talents it takes to explore that space.
In late 2002, after I graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in business management, someone asked me if I had ever considered working for NASA. I thought, "That's just for scientists and engineers, isn't it?"
It isn't. I joined NASA's Langley Research Center in 2003 as an intern. I helped write grant applications, cooperative agreements and small-business contracts -- and very quickly I recognized the value and impact of the work done by all those dreamers and rocket jockeys. I started at NASA because I saw an opportunity; I stayed because I saw a chance to help write history.
I transferred to Marshall in 2004, and now I'm part of a team that guides the development of business contracts required to accomplish cutting edge science, engineering and exploration. We match NASA's requirements with the right industry and academic partners to make sure the safest, highest quality, most cost-effective work is done.
In short, my team helps ensure America's continued leadership in space and NASA's position as a leading economic driver for the nation.
I love being part of this team: meeting each challenge head-on, and working as hard as I can to help realize NASA's goals -- to expand the limits of human knowledge and capability, and to bring the limitless reaches of space that much closer to Earth in ways that reward and enrich us all.