Where are you from?
I was born and raised near San Jose California.
What motivated you to work for NASA?
At an early age, I was very curious about how something as big as an airplane was able to fly. That curiosity steered me toward Aerospace Engineering and eventually exposed me to the research being conducted at NASA. At that point, I was hooked.
Who inspired you?
With respect to my professional career, I would say that the majority of my inspiration came from my teachers. Two in particular stand out in my mind. The first is my graduate school advisor, Dr. Jason Speyer. Dr. Speyer provided my first opportunity to contribute to a research project and instilled, in me, a confidence and a desire for understanding that have served me to this day. The other is Dr. Denny Miu. Dr. Miu helped us understand the connection between the theory we were learning in class and its value in addressing real world engineering problems. I think my leaning toward applied research is largely attributable to him.
What is your role on HIAD, and what are your responsibilities?
I am currently serving as the lead of the HIAD Mission Applications project. The goal of this project is to investigate and understand the potential benefits of HIAD technology within the context of high priority, exploration missions. My responsibilities are to manage the formulation and execution of studies performed under this project.
Tell us about a favorite moment so far in your career.
My favorite career moments have all been related to successful flight tests. One example was the successful Mach 7 flight test for X-43A. This project suffered a failure in its first attempt. The work required to prepare and earn approval for a second attempt was extremely hard. This certainly added to the excitement in the control room as we witnessed the successful second flight. I have been fortunate to have a very similar moment with the IRVE-II flight project.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the same career path as you?
There is only so much that you can learn from your teachers and glean from your assignments at work. If you really want to grow professionally, you need be willing to put some of your time into it (e.g. perform self-study at home) and get involved (e.g. participate in a trade organization like AIAA and attend associated conferences).
What do you do for fun?
Anything outdoors… golf, basketball, volleyball, football, bike riding, fishing…
If you were talking to a student interested in science and math or engineering, what advice would you give them?
Always question your results. Verify your results in alternative ways (e.g. comparing results to those of a similar but simpler problem, perhaps one you can solve by hand) and review your work objectively. By doing this you will ensure quality, be better prepared to present your findings, and achieve a deeper understanding of the problem.