What advice can you offer to young scientists or engineers?
Never, EVER give up on your dreams. Achieving your goals may be difficult at times, so difficult that you may want to quit and take the easy route, but sticking with the harder path in the end will bring you more happiness than you can imagine.
Don't be afraid to ask for help from teachers. They are there for you, and they want you to succeed.
What are your personal goals for the future?
I would like to gain experience working with the MDOT team such that I can move to other positions operating new spacecraft. Eventually I would like to move towards mission managment and planning.
Despite the limited chances, I have never given up on my dream of becomming an astronaut. Hopefully sometime in the future I will achieve that dream.
What are your dreams for the future of exploration?
I would like to see private industry take over the operation of spacecraft in low Earth orbit so that NASA and other national space agencies can focus on the Moon and Mars. A lunar base will be key to supporting research as well as testing of equiptment designs intended for use on Mars.
As for crewed Mars missions I see humans and robots complimenting each other by providing abilities the others lack. I'm not sure if it is realistic, but I would like to see humans set foot on Mars before 2020, but 2030 would be more realistic.
What portion of this mission interests you the most?
As an engineer that started during the thrid mission extension, what interests me the most is how these rovers keep going. I'm not just interested in what's going on with the rovers on Mars, I'm interested in how the mission planners are planning activites such that the rovers are safe and can keep going.
When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Like every other kid at one point in their lives, I wanted to be an astronaut. I just never grew out of that phase.
When did you decide you wanted to be in the space industry and how did you go for it?
It was at the launch of Atlantis on STS-45 in March 1992 that I knew space is where I wanted to be. This took me on a path to the University of Colorado at Boulder to major in aerospace engineering. The reason I chose CU was because of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium which allows undergraduates the opportunity to develop, design, manage. fabircate, test, and operate small satellites.
I also read everything about space I could get my hands on.
Why do you think Mars Exploration is important?
We need to explore Mars because without exploration humanity will begin to decline. We are a species that has risen through exploration. If it wasn't for our curiosity we would never have left Kenya, we would have never sailed the oceans, we would have never climbed the Himalayas. We need to explore to be human.
What excites you about Mars or about space exploration?
What excites me is going places, and seeing things that no one has ever seen before. This gives us the chance to look around the next corner, see over the horizon, and to take a phrase from Star Trek "to boldly go where no one has gone before"
Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy working on cars. I own a 1974 Toyota Land Cruiser that I have partially restored. That project has given me the opportunity to add four wheeling to my list of hobbies.
Another one of my major hobbies is building scale models of real spacecraft. The models I build are not your typical models though, I start with kit and replace many parts to make it more accurate. Right now I am starting a 1:144 scale space shuttle orbiter.
I also enjoy backpacking, hiking, running and swimming.