Name: Roger Chao
Job Title: Technician; Radar Instrument Engineer
Education: B.S.E.E. from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
NASA Center: Dryden Flight Research Center
Hometown: Tainan, Taiwan
Hobbies and Interests: Aviation, Travel, Golf
Tell us about the career path that led you to your present job.
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., as an "academic part-time" while studying electrical engineering at Cal Poly Pomona. Eventually, I became a full-time employee after my graduation.
What attracted you to your career? When did you know you wanted this career?
My father was studying for his Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics engineering at Purdue University when I was young. The very first toy I received from him was a View-Master with films about NASA's Kennedy Space Center and the Apollo moon landing. I spent hours looking at those pictures and imagining that one day I would be travelling through the galaxies and exploring the universe.
While most of my elementary school classmates were playing Pong on their TV, my father wrote a lunar landing simulator program on his calculator and gave it to me as my "video game." Although working for NASA as an engineer was beyond my wildest imagination, I've always wanted to be involved with space exploration.
What was the most interesting class that you have taken to prepare you for your career?
I've enjoyed studying engineering-related courses in college. If I must pick a favorite class, it would be differential equations, an advanced mathematics course taken in college. I think mathematics is the foundation of all science and engineering courses.
What do you think are the challenges for the future in your field?
The near-term challenge is to reduce the size of the radar instrument for multiple platforms.
Tell us about the project that you are working on now.
I currently am working on multiple projects. The G-III UAVSAR is a polarimetric synthetic aperture radar, or SAR. It is specifically designed to acquire airborne repeat track SAR data for differential interferometric measurements. Differential interferometry provides key deformation measurements and is important for studies of earthquakes, volcanoes, glaciers and other dynamically changing phenomena.
What specific responsibilities do you have that are related to G-III flight missions?
I am one of the radar instrument engineers who operate the radar on board G-III.
What prior job experiences have prepared you for your current position on the G-III?
I have been involved with the developing, integration and testing of the UAVSAR since 2005.
What advice would you give to students interested in a career in your field?
I think the most important thing is that you need to have passion for what you do. You will be able to handle any challenges with ease. That was the best advice I've gotten from my professors.
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