Aspire To Inspire: Women in Mathematics

Uploaded by ReelNASA on 18.11.2011

[Kimberly:] I am Kimberly Hambuchen, I currently work in the Robotics Systems
and Technology Branch at Johnson Space Center and I'm basically a robotics engineer.
A robotics engineer can do many things.
I personally work on software for what we call human robot interaction.
I design tools that let people operate robots,
tools that will help robots interact with people.
For example, we have Robonaut 2 on Space Station right now and I'm actually working
on some software that will help it interact intelligently with the astronauts onboard.
So I really spend my day designing software and just in general playing with robots.
[Carolina:] My name is Carolina Restrepo and I work at NASA.
So here at NASA I work in a group called the Integrated Guidance,
Navigation and Control Analysis Branch.
What that means is that we integrate three different kinds of systems
that are typical of anything that flies.
So, the Guidance System tells the spacecraft where and how it should fly.
The Navigation System tells the spacecraft where it is at any given time,
and the Control System fires the engines to make any necessary corrections so that you can get
from where you are to where you should be.
So here at work I simulate how a spacecraft flies and we design all of the algorithms
which is essentially the math that goes into the Flight Computer
and tells the spacecraft how to fly.
[Tejal:] My name is Tejal Fairfield and I work at NASA.
I help engineers manage their projects from a programming, planning,
budgeting and executing perspective.
I help them manage their schedule and their cost and the services they provide the customer.
I help engineers spend their money effectively, and I make sure that they spend their money
where they said they were going to spend it and with the best intentions.
[Kimberly:] So I was the smart kid, and I just remember thinking, well I don't want everybody
to know that I'm too smart or something.
And, you know, it all turned out very well...
From the time that I was a young girl, I was a fan of math, fan of science, physics,
that sort of thing, and I kind of always knew I wanted to go into engineering.
I had an older brother who was majoring in engineering, so I knew what it was,
knew that it was basically a problem solving type of area.
And I loved to solve problems, so that's really what pushed me into engineering.
[Carolina:] I was born in Texas but when I was about two weeks old and I was allowed to get
onto an airplane we went back to South America where my parents are.
I grew up nine years in Colombia and then nine years in Bolivia.
In Bolivia where I went to high school we didn't have any choices like you do here in the US
but instead I took all the regular classes with everyone else and I had a few good math
and physics teachers that I really liked.
I liked how clearly they explained things and how clear things became
that I had been wondering about but nobody had ever explained them to me.
So that was really what attracted me to stay in math and science.
[Tejal:] Growing up I always had a tough time with creative subjects like English just
because English wasn't my first language, Kijathi was.
And so whenever I was trying to learn English I spoke like Yoda
because I put the verb before the noun just because that's what you do in my language,
and so math was just easier for me.
When I was in middle school actually I tested out of the eighth grade math class
and so they moved me up into algebra.
That was my first exposure to math and I fell in love with it just because it made logical sense.
When I was applying for NASA, I seriously didn't think I was going to get it
because I was a Business Major, I was Management and Marketing,
and how does that apply to budget?
But it actually does, because when you manage a budget you have to be a strategic thinker,
you have to think 'how can I make this money do what I need it to do?'.
[Kim:] I loved math, I loved sitting down and doing addition, subtraction,
and oh when I got to calculus in high school I was so excited, I loved it.
So I know there have got to be other girls who are middle school,
junior high aged who feel the same way and I just would like for them to know
that you can actually have a whole lot of fun and a career in science and technology.
[Tejal:] You are your only obstacle in life, period.
[Caroline:] It's important to, to just trust in yourself, and try as hard as you can,
don't just give up because somebody told you to.
[Tejal:] As a woman, you can do anything.
Wow! You can do anything you put your heart to,
don't let anyone limit you, don't let anyone hold you back.
You should always strive for everything that you want.
If you want something, go out there and get it.
Don't let anyone hold you back, or anything hold you back.
I just want you to know, that you are someone, and you are somebody
that can make a big difference in this world and you just have to go out there and do it.