THE BEST THING ABOUT MY JOB IS THAT I AM CONTRIBUTING TO THE FUTURE OF HUMAN EXPANSION INTO THE SOLAR SYSTEM
Hi Kathy, you have worked at NASA for over 35 years, what was your role?
Hi! I was a senior advisor within the International Space Station (ISS) Program and NASA HQ’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate where I was a leader in the effort to develop and implement strategies and plans for human space exploration. I focused on activities related to engaging international partners, leading strategic studies as well as studies which lead to partnerships on NASA’s human exploration campaign. I also led NASA engagement in the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) and several ISECG activities, including the development of the Global Exploration Roadmap.
I was the project manager for the human lunar lander we were working on in the late 2000’s. We were wrestling with a challenge and brought in some Apollo astronauts for their advice and observations. Neil [Armstrong] was a class-act – very helpful to me and my team.
Please tell us a little bit more about yourself! Who are you and what are your hobbies?
I am a working mother of 3 grown children. I have loved working for NASA, contributing to NASA’s human spaceflight program. Given the busy job and raising 3 children, I didn’t have much time for hobbies! As dedicated as I have been to my NASA career, my children were always the most important part of my life. I’m fortunate that NASA is an organization respects the importance of a work/life balance. Now that my children are grown, I have more time for friends, reading, swimming and gardening.
You studied electrical engineering, what made you choose this? Have you always wanted to become an engineer?
I was always good at math and science. This pointed me in the direction of engineering. When I was in high school, computers were coming onto the scene and I was very interested to learn how they worked and how they formed the brains of systems we used in our daily lives. When I learned programming at university, we used punch cards to implement our programs!
What was the best thing about your job at NASA?
The best thing about my job was that I was contributing to the future of human expansion into the solar system! These future missions will not only bring back new scientific knowledge and advance technologies, but they will inspire a new generation of students to pursue careers in science or engineering. I look forward to seeing astronauts back on the Moon and on Mars and all the good that pursuit of these incredible challenges will bring to life here on Earth.
After over 35 years at NASA. I have now retired. I plan to start a consulting company, using my experience managing programs and projects, and developing strategies and partnerships to help companies and space agencies to strengthen their efforts, whether they are in the space sector or otherwise.
What makes you happy?
The thing that makes me the happiest is being with my husband and kids. It becomes more difficult for us all to be together – the kids are distributed around the country – but I really enjoy watching them share and joke with each other.
These future missions will not only bring back new scientific knowledge and advance technologies, but they will inspire a new generation of students to pursue careers in science or engineering.
What is, in your opinion, the coolest thing you’ve experienced because of your career choice?
Because I am working with international space agencies, I’ve been able to do a lot of traveling. I’ve been to many places in Europe and Asia, as well as other places. Seeing so many parts of the world has greatly enriched my life. I also had the chance to meet Neil Armstrong. I was the project manager for the human lunar lander we were working on in the late 2000’s. We were wrestling with a challenge and brought in some Apollo astronauts for their advice and observations. Neil was a class-act – very helpful to me and my team.
What was your favorite thing during your studies?
My studies were hard! I was the only engineer in my friend group. I remember many nights where my friends were going out and I had to stay back in the dormitory to study. That said, my favorite thing was the friendships. I am still close friends with 3 or 4 of my classmates. They are like sisters to me.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could sing.
Pursuing an engineering degree allows you to work in so many fields. You can find a field or sector that interests you and work on challenges and problems, thinking creatively and innovatively about them.
Is there any message or tips you would like to share with girls considering engineering studies?
Engineering is about problem solving. Pursuing an engineering degree allows you to work in so many fields, like energy, consumer products, airplanes, space systems, and other areas. You can find a field or sector that interests you and work on challenges and problems, thinking creatively and innovatively about them. Most of the time, this problem solving takes place in teams – which allows you to bring your unique perspective and expertise to the problem.
Thank you Kathy for your participation!
[Intervjun skapades den 15 februari 2019]