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Lively Laurie Marshall

By Beth Hagenauer
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center

Laurie Marshall and X-43A model
Like a rocket: NASA Dryden Flight Research Center's Laurie Marshall poses with an X-43A/booster model.
NASA photo by Tony Landis.

An internship with NASA during college put Laurie Marshall on a path that has led her to the position of NASA's launch vehicle chief engineer for the hypersonic X-43A. She is part of the team at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center located on Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert.

The X-43A is a 12-foot-long, autonomous aircraft that when flying at test conditions (Mach 7) on March 27 demonstrated an "air-breathing" engine called a scramjet. The March flight reached the project goal of testing a new engine technology that has been studied for more than 40 years.

In 1992, Marshall served an internship in NASA Dryden's Aerodynamics Branch. She accepted a permanent position with NASA at Dryden in 1993, following graduation from the University of California at Davis, with bachelor of science degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering. In 1994, Marshall earned an Engineer-in-Training license. She went on to receive a master of science in mechanical engineering in 1998 from California State University at Fresno.

A Southern California native, Marshall hails from a family of lawyers. Her mother is the first female chief judge for the Central District of California's United States Federal Court, one of the largest districts in the country. Her father is a lawyer and arbitrator and her brother is an entertainment lawyer. They all work in Los Angeles.

"My father got his private pilot's license the year I was born, so I've always been around planes and wanted a field that allowed me to work with them. I read about aeronautical engineering and thought that would be interesting, so I majored in that," said Marshall, who earned a private pilot's license with an instrument rating.

In addition to the X-43A program, Marshall has worked as a researcher on the Space Shuttle program and several projects at Dryden using fast jets to study airflow characteristics.

Marshall's talents reach beyond engineering. She appeared in an award-winning segment of NASA Connect, an integrated mathematics, science and technology television program for students in grades five thru eight.

The episode, "Geometry and Algebra: The Future Flight Equation," featured Marshall as one of the engineers and researchers using geometry and algebra to design, develop and test tomorrow's aircraft. The segment discussed the X-43A. The program received two international awards for excellence and a regional Emmy award in the children's programming category from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

For more on the X-43A, visit: