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Women of SDO - Juli Lander
Juli Lander › View larger
Juli Lander Credit: NASA
Q & A with Juli

What first sparked your interest in science or engineering?
I remember going to the Kennedy Space Center when I was 11 and thought it was very cool. I kept thinking about what it would be like to work in space, or at least on something that went into space. I thought engineering would be a good challenge since I enjoyed math and science. When considering what type of engineering, I thought Aerospace sounded the most interesting, so I applied to the University of Colorado, Boulder as they had a very good aerospace engineering program, and who does not enjoy Boulder?
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I actually had two jobs on the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). I worked with the instrument teams to help them prepare delivery of components for the SDO spacecraft, and then integrate and test each one. I then moved on to help run the day-to-day work involving not only preparing the instruments, but the entire SDO spacecraft for delivery to Kennedy Space Center. I really enjoyed seeing SDO come together and looking at some of the first science images in High Definition. This made working all of those long days and weekends in the cleanroom worth the effort!
What advice would you give to students who would like to work on a project such as SDO?
I would stress to them that there are many ways to contribute to such a large mission. You don’t have to be an engineer to contribute to a mission such as SDO, so don’t get discouraged if math and science are not your strong points. To build a great observatory such as SDO, it takes people from all areas who are not easily frustrated, who are dedicated, and creative.
What do you do on an average day?
I would make sure everyone working on tasks that day knew the plan and were ready to work, that all procedures were in place, and all of the tools were checked out and ready to go. And then I would support all activities planned for that day, starting early in the morning, and sometimes staying late at night. Then come in the next day and do it all over again.
What are the greatest challenges of your job?
The biggest challenges involved the coordination of many people, tasks, and procedures, which can be very exhausting. It required me to be the biggest cheerleader for the SDO team by motivating people to work hard, work efficiently, and work as a team.
What is your favorite hobby/activity outside of work?
I love being outdoors. I enjoy hiking, skiing, fishing, camping, and biking to name a few. Anything that involves fresh air and sunshine!