NASA People

Center Snapshot: Jennifer Caviston
Jennifer Caviston. Image above: Jennifer Caviston enjoys the challenge of her career as a research scientist at NASA Langley. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

Denise Lineberry

Jennifer Caviston is no stranger to snow or cold weather. She was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, later moved to Brooklyn, and then to Alberta, Canada.

As a teenager, her family moved to Virginia and she has been here ever since. Having the beach just a short drive away appeals to her as much as having the mountains nearby. They aren’t exactly the Rockies she grew up snowshoeing and skiing on, but they will do.

She went on a cross-country tennis tour when she was 14. As a child, her love for horses lead her to stadium jumping, dressage and hunter events.

She credits her career as a research scientist, working for Analytical Services and Materials at NASA Langley, to her desire to learn and her problem-solving skills. "My job involves creating and manipulating 3D models of anything from landing gears to launch pads," Caviston said. "I work as part of a team that supports the needs of many different directorates, providing reverse engineering, geometric analysis and verification, data format translation and the occasional miracle."

A little experience helped as well.

"I took a drafting class at Thomas Nelson and then got a job at a small aerospace company in Newport News working on propulsion systems," Caviston said.

Her next career move was to the Newport News Shipyard, working with Computer-aided design (CAD) systems in submarine hull structure. She taught herself video editing and animation and ended up doing shipbuilding design for work and, later, research and development.

Caviston found herself presenting "virtual fly throughs of the new aircraft carrier" and then was selected to lead technical training and development when the shipyard became Northrop Grumman Newport News.

She had gone from being self-taught to being the teacher.

"I presented a class on flash animation techniques to kids in Newport News and showed them simple animations and graphic arts and encouraged them to look at engineering as a future," she said. "I was scared to death, but it went well. I would do it again if asked."

Her present boss took notice of her resume … "and here I am," she said.

Caviston has been working at NASA Langley since November of 2007.

"My job here provides me with new projects and challenges every day. I never know what project I will be working on next, so I don't get bored," she said. "The people I work with are fun and friendly but also have a lot of experience, so I am still learning new things all the time. I like being part of the NASA community and try to persuade young kids to look to NASA as a future place to work."

When she isn’t working she still has the adventurous spirit she had as a child. She likes to kayak and hike and recently was certified as a personal fitness trainer.

As a child, the Rocky Mountains were her limit. As an adult, it’s the sky.

She has started writing a book. "It is a comedy and I think it would make a great movie," Caviston said. "I would then like to produce that movie and be able to do more animation and video editing."