Aspire To Inspire: Women in Technology

Uploaded by ReelNASA on 18.11.2011

[Allison:] My name is Allison Wolff and I work at NASA.
I have the coolest IT job at NASA, because what I get to do is take these ideas
that these really smart people have and make them a reality.
I manage a program called IT Labs, and in the IT Labs what we essentially do is research
and development of Information Technology.
We will look at new technologies, computer systems, network improvements, cool applications
or software, and we'll test them out and we'll see if these are things
that we can use across the agency.
We even get into some of the newer technologies like mobile applications, testing out things
like iPads and iPhones and Androids, so it's a pretty broad scope
of what we do but it's all very exciting.
[Antja:] My name is Antja Chambers and I work at NASA.
I work in the Portable Life Support Systems group.
That is a very long term for I work with the backpack that goes on the back of the suit.
The backpack provides the cooling water, the breathing air supply and return,
as well as any other communication and power that the space suit would need
or that the astronauts would need while they are in the spacesuit.
The spacesuits in general are cool.
There's so much- basically the spacesuit is like its own separate space ship.
It has to keep the astronaut alive, it has to in very extreme environments.
The vacuum of space is probably as extreme as they can come, and so I think it's just
so cool thinking you that have this mini space ship that is meant to sustain life.
[CJ:] My name is CJ Kanelakos and I work at NASA.
I am a mechanical design engineer and I work on Robonaut, Robonaut 2 actually.
Robonaut 2 is a fully dexterous humanoid robot,
and that just basically means it looks similar to a human.
It's about the same size as a human,
it can work in the same workspace or the same area as a human.
We currently have a Robonaut 2 on the International Space Station but it's a torso
and up, so it's just from the waist up and to the head, and we are currently building,
designing and building legs for Robonaut 2.
I love that my job is challenging and it's engaging, it's really fun,
getting to build the robots is cool, you know after we have our parts manufactured and we get
to put them together and then you turn the robot on for the first time and you get
to see it move that's really cool, you know we designed all these parts,
we put together these bearings, these motors,
and all of a sudden It moves and looks like a robot.
[Allison:] Growing up I did not consider math or science or technology to really be my thing.
In fact I was sometimes a little intimidated by it.
I was very surprised to learn that not only did I really enjoy Information Technology
but that I kind of had a knack for it.
Which was a big surprise to me, considering that my background was, was art and writing.
[CJ:] When I was in sixth grade I had a math teacher that really saw my potential for math
and she's the one that got me into the accelerated math programs.
When I was in high school though one of my friends introduced me to our engineering team,
I went to an all girls private school, and so we had an all girls engineering team.
I found out engineering can be kind of a combination of art and science and math.
As a young female that liked to, you know, draw and paint and to do more artistic kinds
of stuff, engineering was a really good combination of those things.
[Antja:] I'm an Air Force brat.
My, we've lived everywhere, probably moved every three or four years, I was born in Germany,
I went to Japan, lived in England, and then my dad finally retired in San Antonio,
and so I think that my exposure to a lot of the air shows, exposure to the aircraft that are
on Air Force bases kind of sparked my interest in kind of heavy machinery I guess you can say.
It eventually grew to a genuine interest in space.
I participated in the High School Aerospace Scholars program, which is or was then sponsored
at Johnson Space Center and still is, and is still an ongoing program
where basically my junior year I got a chance to spend a week at NASA and work with other teams,
which I think truly opened my eyes to wanting to actually finally go to NASA.
[CJ:] I really didn't know how technology influenced people's lives,
I really didn't think that much about it.
It wasn't until I got here and started learning about the applications of Robonaut two,
I was like 'wow, there are really are a lot of applications, even for the things we do at NASA,
but just in general there's a lot of really cool applications for technology
that just make a huge difference in peoples' lives.'
[Antja:] Some fields feel like there's not a lot of women present, engineering is one included,
and so we need all the girls we can get and we have plenty of women that work at NASA
and so don't use that as an obstacle ever for whatever you choose to do in your life.
[Allison:] It's easy to feel pressure to do, to fit one mold or be one thing,
and I don't think you have to be.
I think, I think you can be a lot of things.
I'm a mom, I'm also an art nerd slash IT geek, I love sports still, so I guess I'm an athlete,
and I'm a lot of things and I enjoy being all of those things.
And it's fun, it's great.
[Antja:] I always say to definitely give it a chance.
I know that it's hard.
If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
But it's really worth the effort.
[CJ:] Stay motivated, turn to your family and your friends and to your faith
for help, and just don't give up.
[Allison:] Believe in yourself, because you, you really can do anything you set your mind to.