What is your role at Lockheed Martin?
I am a propulsion engineer on Lockheed Martin’s Orion program, and yes, a real rocket scientist! I am responsible for the certification and integration of the solid rocket Abort Motor. The Abort Motor is part of Orion’s Launch Abort System and is designed to pull the Crew Module away from danger in the event of an emergency during launch or the climb to orbit.
What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?
I always knew I liked science and math, but it wasn’t until I was in college at the Colorado School of Mines, and heard about the Orion program, that I knew I wanted to be an aerospace engineer. I wanted to be a part of the future of human space exploration.
What tips or advice would you offer students considering a career in engineering?
Study hard, get good grades, and take as many math and science classes as you can. Also, “Do stuff!” Being book smart is important, but getting involved in science projects, teams, school clubs, community activities, sports, building things in the garage, or whatever else you’re interested in can offer hands-on engineering and teamwork experience and help to differentiate yourself from the competition.
One of the challenges facing the engineering field is a lack of awareness for what engineering is, and what engineers do. What steps can Industry take to make engineering more relatable to the general public?
We, the engineering community, could improve by providing more examples of how engineering truly helps people in everyday life. From cell phones, to green energy technologies, to medical MRI and Cat Scanners originally designed for aerospace missions, just about everything we touch is engineered by someone. Not only is engineering cool and exciting, but engineered products benefit people every single day. I believe that being able to help others is an important factor for many people when choosing a career, especially girls, and it is often overlooked in career discussion about engineering.
This year’s National Engineering Week theme is “Celebrate Awesome.” What would you describe as the most “awesome” part of your job?
I get to be part of a team that is making history by developing a start-of-the art spacecraft that will take humans to explore deep space and eventually to Mars. It doesn’t get more awesome than that!