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

I didn't believe that I could really become an engineer until I got to Whitman College. This wonderful place is a small liberal arts college nestled inside a comfortable corner of Walla Walla in the far southeast of Washington. They offered a "3-2" program where I could get two degrees (BA and BS) in five years of study - three at Whitman and two at Columbia or ... Caltech! But I needed to pull a decent GPA; I had barely made it into Whitman, let alone Caltech!

There is nothing like a good dose of fear to get the ball rolling! I studied hard. Very hard. I literally lived in the college library under a portrait of the great Indian Chief Joseph. He was very stern and seemed to encourage me to not lose sight of my goals. I didn't. Whitman was a fantastic experience and a few short years later, I transferred down to Caltech.

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