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Matthew D. Fox - Ensures We Get Our Money's Worth
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Supply Chain Manager Matthew Fox ensures that NASA suppliers do what we are paying them to do.

Name: Matthew D. Fox
Title: Supply Chain Manager
Formal Job Classification: Aerospace Engineer
Organization He Works For: Code 302, Institutional Support Office, Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate

What is most interesting about your role here at Goddard?

About once a month, I do an assessment of a flight product supplier to Goddard. We look at adherence to the contract’s mission assurance requirements and the Statement of Work among other things. In addition, we evaluate the supplier’s compliance with industry standards for quality management systems. Basically we make sure that the contractor is doing what we are paying them to do; namely, fulfilling all the contract requirements. We spend one week at the contractor’s facility. The other three weeks of the month, I do follow-up on previous assessments including reviewing their responses, corrective actions, and other feedback to our findings, as well as work on process improvements to Goddard’s own Quality Management System.

Photo of Matthew Fox› Larger image
Photo of Matthew D. Fox. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk
Teamwork and collaboration are very, very important. We coordinate with the Chief Safety and Mission Assurance Officers for each flight and ground project to determine their critical suppliers, both direct contractors and sub-contractors to those direct contracts. Then we coordinate with the particular project to get the contract’s requirements and a heads up on any concerns that might fall within our scope. Next we work with the supplier that we are going to evaluate to schedule our visit.

By visiting several of Goddard’s suppliers, I am given a very broad picture of how mission assurance can be accomplished in an aerospace setting. This exposure gives me a unique perspective to bring back to Goddard, where I can then help to improve our own mission assurance processes.

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done as part of your job at Goddard?

My second week on the job, I was an observer on an assessment at Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia. I got to put on a full bunny suit and walk around the Glory spacecraft before it was launched. Although I had seen many rockets and the Space Shuttles up close during my time at Kennedy Space Center, I had never seen a satellite up close. I was surprised that something that looks so awkward can produce such great scientific data. So something does not have to be pretty to do something great for this country!

After being at Goddard for almost two years, what is one of the most important things you have learned here?

In my job, we assess our suppliers to industry standards for quality management systems. I see how this is accomplished both in-house at Goddard and at the facilities of our suppliers. We all want the same: a quality product. What is very interesting to me is that there are multiple approaches to achieving the same goal.

What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their career at Goddard?

The biggest thing is that within your first few months make sure that you get yourself out of your bubble and learn what each Directorate does and how they do it. I wish I had done this immediately, and even now I’m still a little lost on how certain groups interact with one another.

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 would want to speak with Galileo. I would first ask him how he managed to tip-toe around the scientific establishment of his day, which was then heavily influenced by the church, and still manage to make all his extraordinary scientific discoveries. At one point, Galileo was going to be burned at the stake unless he recanted some of his theories. He reluctantly did so to save his own life and then was put under house arrest for the rest of his life. My question would be this: Based on your experiences in dealing with the scientific establishment of your day, how would you approach the issue of whether or not humankind has influenced climate change?

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

I want to take a Mediterranean cruise with my wife and visit all the ruins of the ancient civilizations in that region. I’m a huge ancient civilizations buff!

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.