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Young Professionals Offer Tips for NASA
Ed Hoffman, Phillip Harris (on television) and Annie Caraccio. Image above: Ed Hoffman, NASA's chief knowledge officer, and Annie Caraccio discuss opportunities at NASA for young professionals during a "Masters with Masters" session at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Phillip Harris, on monitor, joined the conversation from Moscow. Photo credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann
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By Steven Siceloff,
NASA's Kennedy Space Center

Young researchers, engineers and managers are ready to take on the challenges of NASA's future, a pair of professionals told an audience at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida during the last of a series of "Masters with Masters" interviews.

"A lot of times you have to make people feel comfortable with doing things different," said Annie Caraccio, a chemical engineer at Kennedy whose work includes research on a reactor that turns trash in space into usable oxygen, water and methane.

Phillip Harris of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston joined the session from Moscow where he was supporting the latest Expedition crew launching to the International Space Station.

His advice for young professionals at the agency: "Just by talking to people and not being afraid to go ask someone has been very helpful."

Both said the people they've met at NASA have had a singular purpose and are devoted to space exploration. That sense of purpose helped them as they came in, since they were both just starting as the space shuttle fleet was retiring.

"The people at NASA are so passionate and have good attitudes and will get through anything and are very resilient," Caraccio said.

"I found people at NASA who know that no matter where we are going, we are going somewhere amazing," Harris said.

The interview closed a week of specialized interviews at Kennedy for the NASA academy. Ed Hoffman, the agency's chief knowledge officer, said the sessions give the workforce a chance to think about the steps they have taken and consider how much is done.

"One goal is to share knowledge, what are people thinking about, what are they working on, and the second is to make us as an organization be more reflective," Hoffman said. "We're always running. Let's stop and reflect on what we're doing."

The interviews included Bob Cabana, Kennedy's director, former shuttle launch director Bob Sieck, Commercial Crew Program managers and managers of the engineering lab at Kennedy called Swamp Works.

"There's so many great stories and so much great science at Kennedy," Hoffman said. "It's been great."