findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are
those of the developer, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE, and do not necessarily
reflect those of the National Science Foundation.
To MARS with MER - RESEARCH/ers
Flight System Engineer
NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers Project
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
P2K How did you get set on this path? Was it a teacher, was it a tv show? When you were a kid, what set you off on this path?
Nagin Cox When I was in junior high school, I had some friends who were very interested in science fiction. For them it was a passing phase but I picked up on their interest and it "stuck". Soon it occurred to me that I didn't just have to think about space in a fictional way. There was a lot that was happening that was very real in the United States' space program and I decided I wanted to be a part of that. It appealed to the melodramatic side of my teenage self because the purpose of the space program was to help all humankind- not just one particular hometown, state, or even country. From there on it was just about getting the right kind of education and taking the right steps to get to JPL and it has been heaven ever since I arrived.
P2K And at school or university, what were the steps that you had to take?
Nagin Cox I think the most important part is taking as much math and science as you can. Not that that means you have to end up in an area of NASA or the overall space program that uses the math and science the most. It is like a language you have to speak and once you can speak that language you can choose to use it much as you like to or as little as you like but it's really important to have that grounding. Once you have the math and science, you can pursue whatever aspect that you enjoy.