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Andrea Razzaghi
Photograph of Andrea Razzaghi
Andrea helped design Aura and makes sure that all of its parts work together. Her job will be a success only when Aura is in orbit and sending data back to Earth.

Image to right: Andrea Razzaghi makes sure the Aura does its job. Credit: NASA

How did Andrea decide to become a rocket scientist? She says that she always had an interest in how things work.

Growing up, she liked normal "little girl" toys, like Easy Bake ovens. But helping her parents restore an old house opened her eyes to new things. It showed her the wonders of a workshop full of neat tools and problems to solve.

Science and math were her favorite subjects in high school. They prepared her for studying engineering in college. But ask her today if English is one of the most important subjects in high school. Her loud reply is, "Yes!" She explains that speaking well and writing well are critical skills.

Photograph of Andrea Razzaghi posing with a group
Image to left: Andrea Razzaghi and her team work together. Credit: NASA

Her best advice for students is, "Get to know your teachers. Talk to them. Ask them questions. You can learn so much more easily if you do."

What's the difference between a scientist and an engineer? Andrea says that scientists are the dreamers. They think of what they want to do and accomplish. Engineers? ... "We're the ones who build the machines so the scientists can make their discoveries."

And for fun? One of her favorite hobbies is dancing, especially Middle Eastern dancing. Andrea was born and raised in America. But she likes learning foreign languages too. Fluent in Farsi, she also speaks some Spanish and a bit of Dutch.

Adapted with permission: ChemMatters magazine © American Chemical Society 2002
Edited by Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies