What advice can you offer to young scientists or engineers?
Being one, I would give the advice: "try to learn as much as you can and do not be afraid of mistakes." Learning is a big part of life, and is something that people should seek. As the famous lines say, Knowledge is Power. Do not be afraid of mistakes, as many times learning is best accomplished from what you have done wrong in the past.
What are your personal goals for the future?
I plan to go to a university and double major in Engineering. After that, hopefully come back to JPL to continue to work and eventually get a Masters Degree.
What are your dreams for the future of exploration?
I dream of one day sending a human to Mars and hopefully expand the knowledge of our Universe and Solar System through new technologies that will provide more data on unknown subjects of space.
What portion of this mission interests you the most?
The portion of the mission that interests me the most is the rover itself. The drive system is very cool, and is reliable from the experience with the Sojourn rover and both Spirit and Opportunity. As well, how the instruments all integrate with one another to create a mobile lab that can do sample analysis up there on Mars, rather than trying to bring back a sample return and analyze it here on Earth. I find that incredible.
What is the most fascinating thing about your mission?
The most fascinating thing about my mission is the dedication and the number of people involved with the mission. A lot of people are working very hard for this mission, and it is great to see people with similar passions work towards a common goal. It is very exciting to come to work each day and just see everyone work as a team.
What's the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is organizing a lot of the testbeds and then multi-tasking. There are a lot of components involved within a testbed, and learning where everything goes, what everything does, when things will be arriving/departing, and who is going to be where at certain times is challenging. I wouldn't have it any other way though as it makes work interesting. Challenging tasks are often the greatest ones.
What is unique about your job?
Well, I am the only intern inside the testbeds this summer, and since I am in the SpaceSHIP program, I experience a lot of things, like tours and extra seminars, that most employees don't get to do in such a short period of time. As well, most interns don't get to experience what it is like to work in a clean-room and receive special training to do tasks in electro static sensitive areas. I sort of get the best of both worlds.
What’s the most extraordinary experience you've had so far on this mission?
I think its been the clean-room and working next to the "Sandbox". That's the indoor area where they test the rovers going to Mars. It's always cool to see the rover just on the other side of the window where I mostly work, and on occasion, go into the Sandbox and see it very close up. The tours go by, and I smile when I see people looking up at me while I work. It makes me feel like I am awesome.
When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was in elementary school, my 3rd grade teacher got me into space stuff, but I always wanted to work on something like ISS or work on a shuttle. Later I realized that robotics was the way to go for me from middle school.
When did you decide you wanted to be in the space industry and how did you go for it?
I decided I wanted to be in the space industry in 3rd grade. My teacher had taken us to this cool space camp place for a day, as well as took us to a Boeing center in the area to which we got a special tour. I found the rockets and planes fascinating. Since then, I have wanted to do something involving space. It would be 3 years later that I found robotics from FIRST Lego League to which I changed my mind into robotics in space. Getting a job at JPL occured my Junior year of high school as I applied to be an intern over the summer of 2007, to which I was accepted and put into MSL.
Why do you think Mars Exploration is important?
Mars Exploration is important as Mars is the planet in the Solar System most like Earth. It will also help us learn more about the Solar System. Mars is a unique planet, one which I believe humans will inhabit in the near future.
What excites you about Mars or about space exploration?
The fact that we are not limited to learning about science just on Earth, but that we can go to other heavenly bodies and do experiments there.
Do you have any hobbies?
I play guitar, play the tuba, and am currently the President of my robotics team, FIRST Team 599, The RoboDox.