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To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers
John W. Wirth
ATLO electrical lead
NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory
P2K: Some people are born engineers, and some people are made engineers. You had something that痴 inherited?
John Wirth: I知 sort of lucky in that phase because my Dad was an engineer at JPL, worked here for 35 years, and he actually worked in the same field: "ATLO," assembly, test and launch operations, and actually my grandfather worked here too at JPL, so I知 third generation. He worked in the machine shop up in (Building) 18 which does all the machining of all the flight parts. (Ed. note: see JPL's wonderful "Machinists to the Stars" video profile.) So my background is always working with this kind of stuff, so it makes me more geared for it.
P2K: What got you started at school?
John Wirth: Since my past relatives were engineers, I was thinking more in the lines of geology, and so I went out and did a lot of geological stuff and chasing down rocks... and then I jumped into engineering because just fooling around with electrons and getting little radios to work, and causing your car stereo to get louder, gets you involved into electronics, and then I just stayed with it. And my first goal once I graduated, was "I知 >not< going to work at JPL because my grandfather and Dad (did)", and I didn稚 want to have that. But I did some work up at Vandenberg Air Force Base putting in a base-wide LAN (local area computer network), and I just sort of came home one day and said, maybe I値l start looking at JPL because I知 tired of driving up to Vandeberg and they do some cool stuff there...