Matt Wallace
Mars Pathfinder Rover Operations
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Most of my time here at JPL, I have worked as a design and test engineer for both the Pathfinder spacecraft and the Rover. My area of expertise is in power systems - solar arrays, batteries, and power electronics. I was lucky enough to be one of the engineers on the spacecraft launch team when we launched Pathfinder out of Kennedy Space Center in December. It was a kick being one of the people giving the "Go for Launch," then watching the rocket lift off, knowing that the stuff you built was starting a 400-million-kilometer trip to another planet. After the launch, I came back from Kennedy and started my current job.

The best part of my job is being a part of something unique. For instance, the engineers that worked on the Rover got to sign a plaque that was placed on the bottom of the vehicle and is now on its way to Mars. I enjoy thinking about the day when someone like you will go find our rover on Mars, turn it over, and see my name.

The worst part of my job is that on almost a daily basis, I am faced with the fact that I'm really not that smart. I am constantly in awe of the people with whom I work. Many are just naturally brilliant. Some are loaded with decades of experience. But all the successful people I work with have one thing in common, they all work hard. And hard work is an incredibly powerful equalizer between the ordinary and extraordinary intellect.

My Personal Life

I grew up in Virginia and have four brothers, none of whom are engineers, all of whom are better golfers than me. I have been married for almost five years. My wife, Sandra, was born and raised in Scotland, and we go back to visit her family frequently. She works as a nurse on aggressive treatments for critically sick children at the UCLA Medical center, and she's brilliant at it. We don't have any kids. We both like to golf (I probably have achieved fanatic status). On weekends, we can frequently be found out shopping for antiques. I also run and bike when I have the chance, and recently ran my first (and perhaps last) marathon. I play the piano. We both read a lot and we try not to ever miss the TV show "Frasier."

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