I work with the flight computers on Hubble Space Telescope. I am responsible for the
planning and managing the new computer programs as well as modifications to the existing
ones. It is a big job. The computers that are on the telescope are almost 20 years old
and we have to make changes to keep them working at their best. The computer technology
of today is remarkably faster and more reliable than of the past. NASA is taking
advantage of that with a new computer for Hubble, specially designed for the harsh
environment of space. I work with the people building the computer and the people writing
the programs to run on it. Together as a team, we will build and install a new flight
computer in 1999.
I am schooled in Electrical Engineering and have my Bachelor of Science from the
University of Houston. I have always enjoyed a tough challenge; something I wasn't sure I
could do. When I chose engineering, I did so because it offered me that challenge. I
wasn't sure I would be able to make the grades, as I had not even taken Physics in High
School. I will never forget what my first advisor said, "You better learn to swim before
you jump off the boat". He did not believe in me - but I did! I really wanted to do well,
so I went back and took introductory courses from a Junior college. I studied very hard
and tried not to compare myself with others. When I felt I had built the ground work, I
applied and was accepted at the University of Houston. Several semesters I even made the
Dean's list. I guess I learned to swim. Since then, when faced with a tough challenge,
inside I know I can achieve anything I put my mind to.
The best thing about my job is that I get to work with NASA and satellites. The
excitement that I experienced when we successfully completed the Hubble Repair Mission is
not describable in words. In a way it was like earning my degree; I was not sure we would
be able to do it; it was a tough challenge! In my job I am able to turn my ideas into
reality. This happens so often at NASA and in my job that I forget it does not happen
that way everywhere.
The budget crisis that the Nation faces has impacted NASA. The worst thing about my
job is that we are constantly worrying about money. Personally, I think NASA has so much
to offer; there are so many discoveries to be made. When money is such an issue, NASA
becomes a maintenance organization of the existing technology and spacecraft. NASA is the
pioneer of the Nation, we have enabled so much new technology. It breaks my heart to see
a new and exciting project that employs a new technology cut because the funds are not
available or to see us maintain 1970 computers and programs because we don't have the
funds to replace them.
I believe that it is a myth that if you don't "prepare" you can't be a member of the
NASA team. I am proof that it is not so. As a child, I loved the Arts much more than
science. Recent studies have shown that the study of music actually assists young
children in logical brain development. I would recommend that you follow your heart; that
you do passionately that which you enjoy. That you remain willing to explore even those
things which you don't because you may change your mind. I like to think it is like
tasting something new; you may be convinced that you will hate it - but when you give it
a try - WOW it is great!
The NASA of tomorrow will provide an opportunity for the participation of every field
(Arts, Math and Science).
My dad trained astronauts at Johnson Space Flight Center. When Apollo 10 circled the
moon in 1969, Tom Stafford carried my dad's college ring with him. I was 10 years old and
I thought that was neat! To travel so many miles away, to see the earth from such a
different perspective and to be a modern day Christopher Columbus. Now that was a
challenge! My dad knew these "super heroes" and trained them. That was even cooler! My
dad later told me that he was inspired by Buck Rogers who was a super hero of comic
strips in the 1940's. He would sit and draw rocket ships and dream of going into space...
Now that I am grown, my kids really inspire me. They are so curious and love to talk
about space. Today's kids don't watch Buck Rogers, they watch Star Trek - what a
difference. We have come a long way in 50 years. When the Hubble astronauts came to
Goddard Space Flight Center, I made sure my kids got to meet them. They were surprised
that they were just ordinary people.
I have really got the best of both worlds; an exciting job and a great family. I have
three small children 7,5 and 2 years old. I split my time between my job and my family.
After school, we get the homework done as soon as possible, then we ride bikes, bake, do
art projects or explore new things! One of our favorite things to do is lay and watch the
stars. My husband knows many of the constellations and we try to find them. Sometimes we
make up our own and tell stories about the people and animals.