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Nagin Cox
Flight System Engineer
NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers Project
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


P2K: You talked about your job, pulliing a team together. Some of the people we talked to about Pathfinder and the Mars Exploration Rovers said Pathfinder was so much fun because we got to do everything. The Mars Exploration Rovers project's really difficult to navigate because there are so many people, there's so many advisory meetings and so forth. In terms of managing the mission, what do you have to do to get it moving forward with so many people working on so many different parts of such a complicated mission?

Nagin Cox: I think that's a very good point. Certainly when you go from a smaller team to a bigger team you introduce a whole new set of issues. I'm the deputy team chief of a team and my boss and I have found one of us needs to partially focus on the communications aspect. It can take a lot of time just to let people know what's going on and where they need to be. There is another part of the job which is resolving the technical issues that come up, but the people on our team know their jobs and they're very good. Our job as managers is to help them know where they have to be. Like getting them in the right room and then they can do the rest or, as the case may be, keeping them out of the room if they don't need to be in that particular meeting. Being able to represent them, know what their concerns and issues are so we can stand in for them. The rest is about helping them make the right choices so their time is spent most efficiently.

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