Aerospace Engineer/Quality Engineer in Propulsion for the Launch Services Division: Safety/Quality Engineering & Assurance Branch
Organization: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), FL (The comments and opinions expressed are my own and do not represent the views of NASA)
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
When I was in elementary school I wanted to be as astronaut, seismologist, volcanologist or a geologist, but I had a real passion for space travel and wanted to work for NASA. While in high school I did some research on what kinds of degrees astronauts had and most of them were some type of engineer or pilot. That’s when I decided I wanted to be an engineer and starting looking into universities. Overall it was just a general passion for science from a young age.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest projects I’ve worked on are launching the Space Shuttles and Ares I-X. Starting out at United Space Alliance (USA) and then moving to NASA in the hypergolic fluids groups I was very fortunate to work in the Launch Control Center (LCC) almost daily to maintain the system and also troubleshooting problems. Once I had gained enough knowledge and was certified in the system I got to sit in the LCC for pre-launch and then launch activities.
Then when Ares I-X came around I was selected to help refine the launch commit criteria, help build the software screens, refine the requirements, write the test requirements, work in a badge less environment and I sat on console during launch as the prime hypergolic/hydraulic power unit (HPU) system engineer. The coolest part was being able to crawl around in the AFT, Forward and mid body of the Orbiters, do testing in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF), Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and launch Pads. I got to work with the hardware every day and interact with multiple different groups and systems. It was challenging and long hours at times but it really was a rewarding job that I miss today.
Role models and heroes:
My Mom, Kathie, is my role model. She showed me from a young age that women can have a great job and a family too. She is a nurse and worked long hours when my sister and I were younger but she always made time for us and made sure she was there for us. When I told her what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do she just supported me in my decisions and made sure that I got every opportunity to make those dreams happen. I am also part of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and there are so many amazing women in the organization that I look up to and aspire to be like in the future.
Advice for future STEMinists?
Science, technology, engineering and math can be challenging at times but working towards a goal, sticking with it and then making it happen is truly the most rewarding experience. There were times I thought I couldn’t make it through engineering school but I got help from my professors, friends and tutors to make sure I did the best I could do. Love what you do and have a passion for it, if you have that then you can make it through the perplexing times.
Try to find projects, clubs, and organizations to be part of. Having something to belong to and building your network can really make a difference when it comes to getting an internship, co-op, or job. Also, make sure you have a good support system either through family, friends or organizations; they can really make a difference in your life.
Favorite website or app:
Angry Birds Space
Kennedy Space Center Media Archive
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Society of Women Engineers
Astronomy Picture of the Day