Aspire To Inspire: Women in Engineering

Uploaded by ReelNASA on 17.11.2011

[Cindy:] My name is Cindy Koester and I work at NASA.
I work in the space station environmental control and life support area
and I'm lucky enough to have two jobs in that area.
I get to train the astronauts that go to the Space Station on those life support systems.
And I also get to work in Mission Control sitting at a console and monitoring the data
from those life support systems that's coming down from the space station.
We take care of everything that we need to keep humans alive on the Space Station.
So that means everything from equipment that generates the oxygen to equipment
that scrubs out the carbon dioxide.
You know, here on Earth we have millions and millions of plants and trees that scrub
out the carbon dioxide for us, but on the space station, we don't have room
to have all those plants and trees, so we have to have equipment
or hardware that does that for us.
[Alma:] My name is Alma Stephanie Tapia and I work at NASA.
I'm a Materials Engineer and I know sounds complicated, but it's really not.
If you think about it, everything around you is made out of something.
So I'm the person who gets to pick what you're going to make something out of.
I think one of the coolest things about the work that I do is that I get to work with my hands.
I really get to be curious and my job changes every day.
One day I could be working on the solar arrays that are used
on the Space Station to get energy.
The next day I'm working on gloves that an astronaut tore when he was working.
Then the very next day I could be working on the protective heat shield that protects astronauts
when they're coming back into the Earth.
It's something that is an amazing feeling and I never get bored.
[Carly:] I'm Carly Watts and I work at NASA.
I'm a space suit engineer and I work on technology development
for portable life support systems.
So the portable life support systems is the back-pack on the space suit
that has everything you need in it to keep the crew member alive
when they're out on a space walk.
In the long run, what we want to do is make a new space suit that will keep a person alive
out in the harsh elements in space be it around the Space Station or hopefully someday
on the surface of the moon or on the surface of mars or near an asteroid or on an asteroid.
Wherever it may be, that's where we're trying to get to.
We're doing things that nobody's ever done before.
We're developing brand new things that have never, you know, before two years ago,
didn't exist and we're making them better and making them
into something that we can actually use.
And that's really cool.
[Cindy:] You know the path that I took to get from, you know, my schooling to college to NASA,
I think really started in Middle School.
Because that's when I started thinking ok, what am I really interested in?
What subjects in school do I like?
When it came time to decide between, you know, science or Engineering, I realized that I did
like the science and I did like the physiology behind it,
but what interested me even more than that was the why.
So the cause and effect and the, basically the engineering principles behind that.
I like the problem solving, I liked the, you know, comparing the fluid flow
in a blood vessel to the fluid flow in a pipe.
You know, it was a really interesting concept for me and so I would have missed all
that if I would have just gone science route.
So that's why it kinda tipped me over the edge into wanting
to get the engineering piece with it as well.
[Alma:] I grew up in El Paso, TX.
My parents are from South America and we were the first people in my family to come
to the U.S. And so, I was just focused on trying to learn English,
not thinking that what I was going to do when I grew up.
When I went to school, I didn't think I was as smart as the other kids because I was
so far behind on even being able to speak.
But then as I went through school I realized that math, math is the language
that is the same all over the world and even
if I didn't speak English, I could be really good at math.
And then when I learned about science,
I realized that science is the way math explains the world.
When I got to high school I was lucky enough to have a teacher that pulled me
and my twin sister aside one day, kept us after school and told us "you know,
you guys might wanna to go to college and you might want to think of going into engineering".
[Carly:] I think probably the reason I was interested in science, technology,
and engineering in the long run was that my parents were kinda interested in those fields.
So my dad is very interested in science.
When I was little my dad would take me out in the backyard with the binoculars and telescope
when there were comets going over, so we, it was always something my family was interested in.
And then in high school, I had just a really really great physics teacher
that I had for two years in a row.
And we did so many experiments where you learned, you know, an equation
and then you'd do something that proved it actually worked.
And I really liked seeing that we could quantify the way the universe works.
[Cindy:] I like to think that I, you know, have a really wide variety of interests.
You know, I was in a sorority, I was a cheerleader...
maybe that's not your typical NASA engineer stereotype, but it's me and I encourage,
you know, girls everywhere out there to just really get involved
in just a wide variety of activities.
Even if you or other people don't think they don't necessarily go together,
do whatever makes you happy.
[Carly:] My best advice for picking your career path would probably be: do what you enjoy.
So whether or not that be engineering, whether or not that be science related,
do what you really, you know, in your heart feel that you're going to enjoy doing.
[Alma:] I want you to imagine what it would be like to be the person
who is making the next space suit, who's being the next astronaut who's going
to go explore Mars or an asteroid.
But instead of just imagining it, I want you to actually be that person.
Work at science, work at math, take it one day at a time and soon enough,
you'll be here with us, discovering.