NASA People

Center Snapshot: Tim Marvel
Tim Marvel. Image above: Tim Marvel is enjoying East Coast living with his family as a 3-D lead animator and senior graphic designer at NASA Langley. NASA/Sean Smith

Tommi Barrett-Greenly

Tim Marvel, a 3-D lead animator and senior graphic designer in the Science Directorate at NASA Langley, couldn’t ask for a better life.

Marvel, a Science Systems & Applications contractor, has a job he enjoys in an area that he and his family loves.

After graduating with a degree in film directing and 3-D animation, he planned to live and work on the West Coast. But when he was offered a job with NASA Langley four years ago, he couldn’t refuse.

“When we moved to Hampton from Chicago, we fell in love with the East Coast,” said Marvel. “There is so much to do around here, and it’s very family oriented.”

Family-oriented living is a top priority for Marvel, who goes home to a bustling household that includes wife Rennie and their four home-schooled children: Maverick, 9; Zoey, 8; Ivy, 6 and Maximus, 4.

Marvel considers his work at NASA to be “pretty cool.” He uses a variety of media and makes sure to stay on top of changes in technology, while working on several different assignments at a time.

He supports programs such as the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) by providing animations for concept designs. He also designs graphics for events, such as EarthFest, for which he created the logo and various displays.

One of the highlights of his career has been his involvement with recapturing information from the Apollo program. He helped collect and catalog mission data from scientists and engineers, and he created 3-D animations to visually demonstrate the concepts.

"I was able to meet some of the people from the Apollo space program," he said. "I learned things that blew my mind."

For all of that, Marvel is quick to acknowledge Rennie, who teaches at home and runs the household.

"I pitch in," said Marvel. "But Rennie is a real trooper. Her hours are actually longer than my hours.

"The things she does with the kids are fantastic. It is so rewarding to see how our children are growing and learning."

Marvel’s wife has home-schooled the children since they were toddlers, adjusting lessons and challenging the children whenever appropriate.

The children are also budding artists. While Marvel works to support scientists with animation for their concepts, his children and wife tap into their own creative inspirations.

"Rennie, Zoey and Maverick are very interested in photography," Marvel said. "Rennie has a real talent for it, and Ivy and Zoey love to draw."

Maximus aspires to be a police officer.

Marvel has his own creative projects at home. One of his biggest passions is film and screenwriting. Between his work at NASA and being a husband and father, he "squeezes in time" to work on a feature-length screenplay that he hopes to sell. He also likes to shoot short High Definition (HD) projects on the side to keep his director’s edge "sharp."

His family is actively involved with their church, where all four children attend an Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed (AWANA) program. They stay busy with plenty other extra-curricular activities, with Maverick playing football, Ivy playing soccer and Zoey learning guitar. They also participate in a spelling bee and geography fair each year.

The family makes sure to enjoy the local area as much as possible, visiting museums, aquariums and taking advantage of their Busch Gardens season pass.

And once in a while, Marvel will whisk his wife away for a special dinner out or a weekend together.

"We definitely have to take time for ourselves once in a while," Marvel said.

Their schedule is usually filled with family activities, but to Marvel, their time together is worth every second.

"You have to remind yourself to take time with your family now," Marvel said. "Being there for your kids is so important; they grow up quick."

With his work at NASA and his busy life at home, Marvel knows his life is full.

And he’s making the most of it.