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 Job Title:
Mechanical Research Engineer
What that means:
At NASA, a Mechanical Research Engineer develops machine technologies for aerospace systems and spinoff technologies that serve the public.
What I do:
My career has been focused on creating new mechanical and electro-mechanical mechanisms. Examples of mechanisms that I have developed while at NASA are: an airless tire, an electronically controlled adaptive spring and a component that stops machine vibration by converting it to electricity.
The coolest /most interesting part of my job is:
The best part of my job is that it allows me to convert ideas into real things that people use.
My favorite project that I have worked, or that I am working on, is:
Thus far, the project I liked most was the development of a Moon tire. We partnered with Goodyear to create an airless tire that would not go flat while driving on the Moon's surface. In phase I of the work we reverse engineered and manufactured replicas of the Lunar Roving Vehicle tires used during the 1970s Apollo missions. That was really interesting because those tires were made of piano wire. In phase II we created our own design, which we now call the Spring Tire.
The accomplishment that I am most proud of is:
The accomplishment I'm most proud of is the Spring Tire development because the technology could have widespread use on Earth.
A Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education helped me by:
One of the most beneficial things that I did in school was to study the combination of electrical and mechanical engineering. Mechanical devices often have integrated electrical features and the education has helped me understand both aspects.
Good advice for students, including STEM students, is:
My advice to students is to participate in as many hands-on projects as possible. Making something with your own hands is what really teaches you how things work. You will find that courses in the STEM subjects are more fun once you start thinking about how you can use that information to create something new.
How do you "dream big?"
As a NASA employee, dreaming big has become an obvious thing to do. It's pretty much built into the job description. However, in school I was a below average student and didn't have much vision. One thing that I did develop a passion for was installing car stereos. I got really good at doing that one thing and it helped my confidence. I started getting interested in academics, because I wanted to understand more about electronics and acoustics and pretty much any information that related to making sound. I enjoyed my last two years of high school and for the first time received good grades.
Who inspired you to "dream big" and how or what did they do that inspired you?
My high school electronics teacher inspired me. He was really down to earth and had a way of making his students feel like adults. I still keep in touch with him.
What do you do to inspire others to "dream big?"
Each summer I mentor students through NASA's internship program. My approach has been to allow the students to select their own internship project, which addresses an existing technical challenge at NASA. Typically, they will design, build and test a prototype to execute their idea. They seem to gain a lot of confidence when they see one of their ideas come to life.