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Any opinions, 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.


Rob Manning
Entry, Descent and Landing Operations Manager
Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

My parents purchased a collection of Time/Life science books that changed my life. These picture books brought the reality of what science is and what scientists do right into my living room (I didn't see a difference between engineering and science - it all looked intriguingly foreign to me). I saw pictures of places like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where people actually invented these space probes. From then on, I wanted to do that.

My interest in math and science in the classroom didn't exactly explode. I was a mediocre student. But my curiosity in space exploration forced me to want to learn more. My teachers said that I needed to do well in school before I could do anything technical. On one of the pages of the Time/Life book "The Scientist," was a picture of the Caltech graduating class. It said that these people were among the best and would lead the technological revolution. I wondered if I could be like them.

I spent my high school years in the farming town of Burlington, WA. It was a great place to learn the ropes of rural life: machine shop, auto shop, farm shop, small gas engines shop, plastic shop, welding shop and lots of "ag" classes. We learned how to work hard after school and in the summertime on the farms and in farming industries. But we did not learn how to study. I knew that would have to change if I wanted to be an engineer. So it was with much trepidation that I applied for college.

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