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Luis Gallo - Enjoying the Challenges of Life as a NASA Engineer
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As a Reliability Engineer, Luis D. Gallo enjoys theoretical challenges. As the son of Cuban immigrants, he looks forward to the reality of someday visiting the rest of his family in Havana.

Name: Luis Gallo
Title: Reliability Engineer
Formal Job Classification: Aerospace Engineer
Organization He Works For: Code 322, Reliability and Risk Analysis Office, Safety and Mission Assurance Office

What is most interesting about your role here at Goddard?

The first thing every morning I usually check my emails to make sure that I capture any appointments. Then if I need any questions answered, I email them. After that, I perform analyses of spacecraft/scientific instrument design to make sure that relevant risks are captured and that designs will hold up under worst case conditions. I also investigate ways to combine all available spacecraft and scientific instrument information in convenient ways so that we can more holistically assess and predict its ability to withstand the space environment.

I work in an office. My tools include electrical circuit simulation software which tells me how electrical circuits will behave under stressful environmental conditions such as heat, cold, or radiation. I use a combination of computer models, spreadsheets, and pen and paper.

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Luis Gallo in his office. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk
Teamwork and collaboration are important in my work. I have only been at Goddard about two years, so I get a lot of advice from my colleagues who have been here longer.

The people are very willing to help. Most have an open-door policy. Everyone wants to see you succeed. It is a supportive, not competitive, environment. You are encouraged to ask questions before problems arise and to be proactive in pursuing solutions. I especially appreciate that my boss actively looks for opportunities for me to apply my personal engineering interests to the job.

As somebody who is just starting his career at Goddard, what lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions however dumb it may seem before you get started on something. There are no dumb questions. Everyone is here to help you. Always be willing to help others, but be honest; it’s better to promise less and deliver more.

Why did you want to become an Aerospace Engineer at Goddard?

As a little boy, I was always fascinated by space exploration. My parents took me to the Kennedy Space Center and the planetarium and I loved it. I looked forward to the day when traveling in space would be as easy as getting into a car and driving around. As I grew older, I began to like the challenge of designing something that must fend for itself with minimal help. Many times we send spacecraft so far into space that we can’t reach in and fix them when they break. We must anticipate the challenges they’ll face and even equip them to face challenges we did not anticipate.

If you could meet and talk to anybody, living or dead, who would it be, and what’s the first thing you’d ask them?

I like to read. My favorite author is C.S. Lewis. I especially enjoyed “The Screwtape Letters,” “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Mere Christianity.” He uses allegory to make complex ideas seem simple and does not divorce faith from reason. He once stated: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” So my questions to him would be these: How did your faith influence you as a university professor and as a writer? Is it possible to separate your faith from your profession?

Is there someplace in the world that you want to visit, or someplace you have been and want to go back?

I was raised in Miami, Florida. My parents are from Cuba and their parents came to this country to escape the Castro regime. Although I have not yet been, I would like to visit my extended family in Havana, Cuba. I have many cousins there. I look forward to the day that my family here can spend some time with our relatives in Cuba and share with them some of the many blessings we have received.

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