Text Size

Robert Dillman
Robert Dillman
Click to Enlarge

Robert Dillman, IRVE-3 Chief Engineer
Credit: NASA

Where are you from?

"From" is a bit nebulous since my father was in the Navy and we moved every two to three years until I finished elementary school. I spent junior high and high school in Virginia Beach, which was the longest I'd lived in one place until starting work at NASA.

What motivated you to work for NASA?

I've always thought the space program was amazing, and wanted to work on it from a young age.

Who inspired you?

One of my earliest memories is watching the final Apollo mission live on television. It was miraculous to see what they were able to accomplish.

What is your role on HIAD, and what are your responsibilities?

I'm the chief engineer for IRVE-3, meaning that I provide technical leadership and guidance to the IRVE-3 project team, solving the problems that come up as we move from concept to hardware. We're building an inflatable decelerator and the associated components required to make it work, and it's scheduled to launch this April from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. The IRVE-3 flight will confirm that the flexible fabric heat shield can handle the proper re-entry environment, and demonstrate the effect of an offset CG on the reentry trajectory.

Tell us about a favorite moment so far in your career.

Watching the IRVE-II launch in August 2009 was a moment of extreme satisfaction. When the video from the on-board cameras reached the control room, showing that the aeroshell had inflated as planned for reentry, there was a simultaneous cheer from everyone present.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the same career path as you?

Study hard, and look for a job doing what you find most interesting.

What do you do for fun?

In my free time I enjoy racquetball and gardening.

If you were talking to a student interested in science and math or engineering, what advice would you give them?

Keep studying! Math and science are the core of engineering, and being good at them will help you find somewhere you can enjoy working throughout your life.