Two years later, JPL's Voyager spacecraft began returning fantastic images of Jupiter
and her entourage. Even the busy problem-solvers at Caltech peeked up from their work and
smiled in delight. It was a heady time to be an engineering student! Later that year JPL
graciously offered me a part-time position as a draftsman of the Galileo spacecraft
schematics and I found myself inside the very picture I had envied a more than a decade
earlier - I had finally graduated!
My first decade at JPL revolved around spacecraft computers and advanced computer
architectures. It was fascinating work, but technologically a long way from computers as
intelligent as "HAL" from "2001: A Space Odyssey." I went on to be the lead engineer for
the computers used on the Cassini spacecraft. Later I found that designing "fault
protection" would be a lot of fun and spent two interesting years thinking about how to
make Cassini diagnose failures and repair itself during its long lonely voyage to Saturn.
Then Mars Pathfinder came along.
Likes/Dislikes About Career
My friend Richard Cook says the best things about his job are the technical challenges
of building a spacecraft and sending it to Mars and the great team of people we have
working on Mars Pathfinder. I couldn't agree more. Something like Pathfinder cannot be
achieved without teamwork and we have been lucky to have many tireless and selfless
people making this work. This once-in-a-lifetime experience will forever be etched into
my memories. It will be the fine people that I will remember. The other best part of my
job is the learning. For someone as curious about how things work as I am, this is a
dream job. I get to learn about Mars geology, mechanical engineering, how parachutes and
airbags really work, and much much more. My job is never boring. The one part of my job
that I like the least is the time it takes from my wife and my personal life. The other
part is always feeling like I need to do more at work. It is a frustrating combination.
I live in Pasadena, Calif. with my wonderful wife, Dominique, and our two goofy
pooches, Scooter and Izzy. We spend our free time working on our house, laughing with
friends and trying to find time for each other. When we find the time, we both love to
ski. I also manage to find some free time to play jazz (bebop) trumpet with local jazz