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Kamili Jackson - Giving Back Is Paying Back
September 17, 2013

[image-51]Name: Kamili Jackson
Title: Product Assurance Engineer
Organization: Code 323, Mission Assurance Branch, Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate

Product assurance engineer Kamili Jackson believes that giving back is paying back.

What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?

I help the Chief Safety and Mission Assurance Officer make sure that our mission assurance requirements are met for whatever project we are asked to review. In particular, we look at the overall safety, reliability, software, electronic parts, materials and workmanship. We are part of the project team until launch.

The hardest thing I ever have to tell someone is, “You have to do this over because it doesn’t meet the requirements.” I build up a relationship with the team so that when and if I have to tell someone this, I already have their respect and can work with them as a partner. Sometimes breaking bad news is harder than finding any requirements issues. Our goal is to spot any problems as early as possible so that they can be fixed with a minimum of disruption or cost.

Why did you choose your profession?

I loved math, so I always knew I wanted to be an engineer. I was fascinated by how atoms line up and produce certain properties of materials, so I became a materials engineer. When I eventually wanted to see the bigger picture, I expanded my field to safety and mission assurance, which involves materials but is more expansive.

What is the one thing you would tell somebody just starting their career at Goddard? 

Pay attention to opportunities. There are many different ways that you can contribute. Exploring other roles may show you how your talents can best be used. Get out of your cubicle and see what else is going on at Goddard.

What do you enjoy most about your job as a safety and mission assurance engineer?

What I enjoy most is that I get to see the spacecraft being built from the bottom up and from beginning to end. I get to see all the individual parts being made or bought. Then I get to see all these parts come together into one whole.

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

Before my current job, I was a materials engineer for the last Hubble Servicing Mission and was part of the mission team Goddard sent to Johnson. So I got to see the launch. It was amazing to see the culmination of all of our efforts lift off the ground and enter into orbit safely!

What makes Goddard a great place to work?

People generally like to be here and want to do good work. Everyone likes to explain what they are doing and why it is important to our mission. Everyone is always happy to answer any questions. I love learning how all of Goddard works together.

If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you be doing?

I would be a math teacher for high school students. My favorite type of math is algebra, which is the foundation of everything to come.


Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests or activities outside of work that people do not generally know?

I am the overall advisor for the Future Innovative Rising Engineers National Society of Black Engineers, Junior Chapter, in Greenbelt, Md. With a team of volunteers, I lead high school boys and girls through three national competitions each year: the Engineering Design Competition, a LEGO robot competition; the Amazing Race: Math Edition, a mental challenge involving math and physics; and Team America Rocketry Challenge, which involves model rockets. In March 2013, our Engineering Design Competition team placed first out of 26 teams in the nation!

If time travel were possible, when and where would you visit, and why?

I want to travel to the future, maybe 200 years from now. I want to see all the new technology. I want to see if we have solved issues like energy use, climate change, transportation, communications and everything else.

What one word or phrase best describes you?


What is your “six word memoir”?  A six word memoir describes something in just six words.

Giving back is paying back.

What is the one big dream you have?

I have two big dreams. I’d like to run a technology-based, after-school program and I also want a house on a beach, any warm beach.

Related Links:

Engineering As A Competitive Sport - Goddard View, Vol. 9 Issue 9

Sanetra Bailey - Uniquely Adventurous Robot Designer

Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Engineering Design Competition Team
Engineering Design Competition Team with Coach - L to R: Coach Sanetra Bailey, Jahmyire Jones, Shannon Kirkland, Isiah Crite, and Wesley Ross.
Image Credit: 
Courtesy of Kamili Jackson
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Kamili Jackson
Photo of Kamili Jackson
Image Credit: 
NASA/W. Hrybyk
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Page Last Updated: September 24th, 2013
Page Editor: Lynn Jenner