Topics: African Americans, Diversity in Science, Women in Science
NASA Engineer, Concha Reid
Many people can reflect on their childhoods and identify the one moment that sparked their passion, ultimately illuminating their path to reach their career goals. For Concha Reid, the absence of light in her Virgin Islands hometown ignited her interest in power systems.
“We frequently had power outages on the island when I was growing up,” said Reid. “The reliability of the electrical grid wasn’t as robust as the United States, and hurricanes knocked out electrical power for lengthy periods of time.”
Reid saw the potential for power systems to be more reliable and realized that studying math and science was an avenue to solving real-world problems. Her school on the island of St. Thomas didn’t have advanced placement courses, but her teachers recognized her love of learning and mentored her along the way.
Social Media Lead Courtney Lee
“When I started on the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope team, many people would say that our symbol looked like the alien from Space Invader. And I thought, what if we play into that and create a video game around the idea? It took a few months, but I pitched it, and the team absolutely loved it. We got the funding, worked with the developer, and got it done; we created the Roman Space Observer video game last year and released it on June 2nd.
“I love video games and thought we should meet people where they are, which is another way of creating content with people in mind. Just because we can create content doesn’t mean we should create content, so I want to ensure that everything we develop answers a question and has a purpose.
“I wanted to create a game because right now, a lot of what we [at NASA] make is geared toward people who already know the science and are interested in NASA. But there are huge audiences out there who, like me, didn’t realize they could love or be intrigued with NASA because it was never where they were. It’s not on these video game platforms. It’s not on YouTube beauty channels. Do you know what I mean? It’s not where people are watching.
Project Manager Dr. Marcus Johnson
“In acting, a method actor becomes the thing, right?
“I hear and see a lot about techniques in technology in certain areas like AI. My personality tends to levitate toward wanting to try things out, wanting to build and break, as opposed to watching from the stands. So, it may not be with every piece of technology, but every year, I try to take one or two things I want to learn and get some hands-on experience. I ensure I have time within my day to think about the bigger picture. Think about things that haven’t been created yet, instead of just working the here and now.
“For example, [outside my work as the project manager for the Advanced Capabilities for Emergency Response Operations (ACERO)], I took training to be qualified as a Type 2 Wildland Firefighter. Part of my interest was to better understand who I was developing technology for and how they would use it. So, I went through many training courses and got my certification this year. I hope that sometime this fire season, I can get an opportunity to go out and help out with the fires, particularly in California.
“And likewise with my drone’s pilot license. My kids were interested in my drone work, and during the last extended furlough, I decided to learn a new skill in flying drones. And so, [outside of my work on uncrewed aircraft systems], I got a drone pilot license and showed my kids how to fly drones.
A plethora of trailblazers is at the following link: NASA Image Gallery Black History Month.