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
Thermal Systems Cognizant Engineer ("Cog-E") for Mars Exploration Rovers mission
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
P2K: When you go out to schools what do you say to kids who say, "Well, gee I'm not really very good at math... science is not my bag... I'm just not that good at it?" Do you say, well give up and go and do something else? What do you say?
Shonte Wright: Never give up. If you like math... if you like science then there is a way you can excel at math and science. If you are having a problem with math or science then it is imperative that you take a step back, you evaluate that problem and you come up with a solution for it. And that is something that your parents can help you with. It's something that your teachers can help you with. And even your classmates. Math and science are, of course, challenging. If it was easy everyone would do it. But if you really enjoy math and science, and you find that it's really catering to your interest in your career path, then it is imperative that you find out what the problem is and that you properly address it so that you can move forward. Math is a lot of fun from the standpoint of, it is truly problem-solving, and when you figure out what the problem is and you fix it then you are just having a lot of fun, and so it is important that you find that problem.
P2K: What did you do at junior high school? Obviously you have an unfair advantage if you have a mother in the "space biz," but at school what courses did you take? What did you do? Did it all come easy to you? Did you have to fight hard to get the right credentials?
Shonte Wright: I've always loved math and science. I really liked math and science, specifically because they are not subjective. It's right or it's wrong, and you can prove it definitively. And that is something that really pushed me in that particular area, and it was fun. It was problem-solving. You know, there were times when I was sitting at home by myself because I was an only child and I could just pull out my math book and just solve different problems. And I could then look in physics problems and see applications for the math, and so I thought that was really neat. A lot of the classes that I took included, of course, pre-calculus, calculus, as well as physics and chemistry. Chemistry, I didn't have too much fun in, but physics was a true blast.