Why I'm Here and Not Somewhere Else
The thing I like best about my job is that I get to work with a lot of different
people in a lot of different disciplines: scientists, electrical engineers, propulsion
designers, spacecraft operators, managers, etc. I enjoy learning about all those aspects
and trying to integrate them.
The thing I like least about my job (today anyway as I write this) is a sometimes
unending stream of requests from NASA Headquarters for all-too-hasty responses to
all-too-important questions. Hasty answers are dangerous in that not everything can be
taken into account, and may lead to not-so-great decisions that we then have to live with.
Me as a Kid
As a kid I always liked math, science and learning in general. On the side I built and
launched model rockets in elementary school, built dozens of electronics projects in
junior high and high school (paid for by fixing televisions), and did lots of computer
programming in high school, as well as designing and programming computer data acquisition
systems for medical research. I was in a summer science program through high school,
including the last summer in a laboratory program where I did biochemistry research at the
University of Miami Medical School, successfully getting fatty membrane proteins into
solution in water using a sequence of alcohols. It was at that medical school that I made
some contacts leading to the data acquisition work.
I was following the same accidental career philosophy then that I follow now. I just
did what seemed fun. The model rockets had me learning trigonometry while I was in fifth
grade in order to determine their altitude. That led me to learn some more math on my own.
The model rockets also led me to electronics when I got interested in instrumented payloads,
like a radio to send the sounds of the flight. The electronics got me into computers when
the first computer kit showed up in "Popular Electronics." And so on. I don't remember
ever wanting to "be" something--I just remember wanting to do different things. I guess
I'm the same now.