Thousands of talented, dedicated and passionate people work at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. They are rocket scientists and engineers. They are researchers and physicists and chemists. They are aviation specialists, public affairs officers, administrative assistants, security officers, logistics managers and more. With countless specializations in myriad fields, the people of Glenn share one goal: working for the public in support of NASA's mission.
The diverse Glenn workforce is comprised of civil servants and on-site support contractors. Workers perform a large variety of different jobs at NASA Glenn. "My Job at NASA Glenn" is a series that introduces some of these workers. Learn about different employees and the interesting jobs they perform, and how their education prepared them to make unique and important contributions to NASA.
Image Credit: NASA
What that means:
Engineering is the martial art of physics. Who is going to win?
What I do:
I design electronics systems that communicate with spacecraft. Think of it like an iPhone that communicates with the International Space Station.
The coolest / most interesting part of my job is:
Early next year, our mission is going to launch. Then, I am going to watch hardware I built communicate with the space station!
My favorite project that I have worked, or that I am working on, is:
Electronic design of the CoNNeCT Experiment Center!
The accomplishment that I am most proud of is:
CoNNeCT is a flight communications project. When I connect the CoNNeCT Experiment Center Experiment Front End Processor to the space-borne Software Defined Radio, and I see the LED lights showing that it has acquired frame lock and is operational, it is a good feeling. It means that the parts "understand" each other, and are in sync.
A Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education helped me by:
When I was 9 years old, I used to take apart radios and think, "When I grow up, I want to design radios." When I was 18, I enrolled at Cleveland State University as an Electrical Engineering major. I didn't particularly like math then. When I was taking calculus, I had no idea how it was going to make me a better electrical engineer. I just knew calculus was important. I didn't like or dislike calculus. I just did it because the reward was important enough to me.
I never considered changing majors. I just graduated with my master's degree in electrical engineering this year. People tried to dissuade me from getting a master's degree in electrical engineering. I ignored them. I use my senior-level and graduate level engineering classes day in and day out at NASA. Now, 20 years after I first had the dream to build radios, I am building them for the world leader in aerospace!
Good advice for students, including STEM students, is:
The only real limitation you can ever have is your mind, and your best asset is always your mind. So, develop it. Don't worry if you don't feel smart. I don't feel smart most of the time. Pick a profession that you love so much you would do it for free. Make yourself a master of that profession. Charge the fees of a master. As long as you are on that journey, you are successful.
Persistence means doing what you have decided to do, even when other people think it is impossible, or even when you think it is impossible. You can make up for IQ with persistence, but not the other way around. Choose a specific direction for your life, one that you enjoy immensely, and follow it persistently.