To succeed in your career, you want to have a passion for what you're doing. Find something that makes you want to go to work everyday, that makes the day go by and you don't even realize it. You want to believe in what you're doing, believe in the end goal.
After you find that, you need to find a group of people you respect and can work well with. No one can do it all themselves (or most of us can't) and working with a team of people that you "click with" is key in getting the most of our your work.
My near term goals are to complete the Mars Exploration Rover mission. Seeing the project from concept to reality will be a very satisfying and educational experience for me.
My career up until the Mars Exploration Rover project has been primarily focussed on the conceptual to detailed design process of a spacecraft and mission. I'm particularly interested in systems engineering and the guidance and control design work. So working on the Mars Exploration Rover mission has been very educational in learning about the testing and soon to be operational aspects of a mission.
While clearly the earlier stages of the project's development are interesting to me, I may have to adjust my opinions after this experience!
The most challenging part of the job has been reaching all of our goals. We've had a big challenge in meeting our schedule.
Probably the most extraordinary experience so far has been working with such a great group of people. Even with the intellectual caliber of this group, there is mutual respect and cooperation that makes working with everyone a great experience.
We are doing things never done before. We will see things on Mars that have not been seen before. And we will have new discoveries not imagined before.
Lately, besides getting the two spacecraft ready for launch and preparing for operations, my other time commitment is my family. I try to balance work and home life with a supportive husband and two school-age kids who have a very busy schedule themselves! But when I do have a free minute, I like to enjoy the outdoor weather here in sunny California with running and biking around. And when we can squeeze it in, my husband and I like to travel. We recently celebrated our 10 year anniversary in lovely New Zealand!