What advice can you offer to young scientists or engineers?
Get hands-on engineering and technician experience whenever possible. What you learn from handling hardware teaches you how that hardware can be used and operated.
What are your personal goals for the future?
I have sent in applications to become a NASA Astronaut, and I still hold on to my dream to some day fly in space.
What are your dreams for the future of exploration?
I want to see landers visit the moons of Jupiter, and I want to see humans begin to establish a permanent presence on the moon and mars during my lifetime.
What portion of this mission interests you the most?
I think that we are all going to be amazed by the different scenery seen by the rovers on Mars. These are mobile rovers and the scene around them will change each time they move a couple hundred meters. It will also be interesting to compare the scenery between the two MER sites and also to the landing sites of the past Viking and Pathfinder missions.
What is the most fascinating thing about your mission?
The image resolution will be amazing, and it will be very interesting to look at the inside of a Martian rock with the Microscopic Imager after the rock abrasion tool removes the outer layers of the rock.
When did you decide you wanted to be in the space industry and how did you go for it?
I made the decision in eighth grade. I watched the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster during my Apple 2e programming class, and I decided that I needed to join NASA to help them fix the problems that caused the shuttle disaster. I continued to be strong in Math and Science through high school and then I was accepted into the Aerospace Engineering department as CU Boulder.
Why do you think Mars Exploration is important?
Mars is the next best planet to support human life, and I believe that some day we will populate Mars and become a two planet species.
What excites you about Mars or about space exploration?
What excites me most is what is out there that we do not yet know about. I can't even imagine what types of missions JPL will be sending up 20-30 years from now, or 100 years from now, and what kind of discoveries await us out there.
Do you work on any other projects at your company?
As a group supervisor, I support my group members on several JPL projects. I also support various university projects as an advisor. I’m currently planning a JPL hosted student competition for designing, building, and launching small “cansats” on high powered rockets, and “balloonsats” on weather balloons. This competition is sponsored by AAS, AIAA, and many other organizations.