The thing I tell young engineers most often is “you will be pleasantly surprised at what you are doing 5 years from now.” This business is so exciting and the opportunities to grow, develop expertise, and participate in such extraordinary challenges seems never ending. For those that approach this job with the desire to be thorough, communicate and balance the risks involved, and seek creative solutions to the problems that face us…the reward is an enriching and exciting career!
The most challenging part of my job has to be dealing with technical issues when they come up. There is so much functionality packed into MSL that issues tend to have many factors at play. The challenge comes in trying to devise the right set of tests and analyses to give us the data we need to understand the problem and to develop ways to fix it. This challenging aspect of the job is also one of the most interesting and rewarding aspects!
In first grade, I wanted to be an architect. By second grade, my thoughts had moved to Astronomy. In third grade, I learned that I could combine the two and become an Aerospace Engineer and work on airplanes and spacecraft. Since third grade, at age 8, I have wanted to do this type of work. It made my choice of a major in college very easy! Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, with the Viking landings and Voyager tour of the outer planets, it was very easy to stay excited about NASA and the space industry. Even though the space industry is now more than 50 years old, there are still a lot of new and exciting missions to capture the thoughts of young people, like my two daughters, and inspire them to be “Rocket Scientists” too!
All of my hobbies involve spending time with my family (which is probably my #1 hobby). I’m an active musician, playing in a big band called “the Big Band Theory” and a “songs from the American songbook” type of band (jazz and classic rock) called “Lounge-o-Rama.” My wife sings in both bands. I also really enjoy gardening (including backyard chickens) and camping/hiking.