Interview – NASA – Benjamin Emory

Hey everyone! This week on Questions To Inspire, we have an amazing interview. We are going to talk with someone that works at the NASA Langley Research Center – Aerospace Engineer – Benjamin Emory!

Good morning, Benjamin.  Let’s start out with you telling us a little bit  about yourself.

I am training to be a mechanical engineer (Ph.D.) but work as an aerospace engineer doing everything from satellites (Global Precipitation Measurement and James Webb Space Telescope) to manned spaceflight (Orion/MPCV/Space Launch System, and commercial crew). I have also work on some commercial resupply programs and on ground transportation loads for the crawler transporter. I do vibro-acoustics, loads, environments, stress, dynamics, optimization, modal and acoustic testing, and lots of programing, mostly in Python. I have worked at two NASA centers. I started as a co-op student and Goddard Space Flight Center in 2009 and was there until 2012 as a regular employee starting in 2010 when I graduated. I started working at Langley Research Center in 2012 until 2017 and took a position at the Naval Research Laboratory until mid 2018 when I returned to NASA Langley. I telework full time and live closer to Goddard.

That is a very extensive resume you have! Can you please tell us about how much NASA does for the world and what you contribute to NASA?

A very simple explanation of what I do the most: I check to see if a something someone wants to put into space can withstand the forces (sound, vibration, aero, etc) of a launch or transportation to the pad using engineering mathematics and engineering physics. When I was a co-op and new employee at GSFC my first assignment was to work on the Global Precipitation Measurement mission to measure different type of precipitation. My current goals are to become a loads and dynamics expert especially in the area of vibro-acoustics as well as become a better programmer in the area of high performance computing.

Let’s talk about you working at NASA, what was your reaction and what did others say when you told them you were working for NASA?

I was really happy to start working at NASA. I started as a co-op student while working on my Ph.D.

Fantastic! One of the things we want to do in these interviews is talk about the importance of education, especially focusing on STEM subjects.  How important is it for children to learn STEM skills and what was your favorite subject during school?

In the field I work in STEM is required. You can’t apply for the job without a relevant degree from an accredited university. I use engineering, math, physics, and computer science daily. There are some mathematical models I use that take weeks to set up and some that take days to run on large computers. My favorite subjects in grade school was math and science.

What would you consider your greatest accomplishment of your career?

So far two of my greatest awards were early in my career. I was selected for a Robert H. Goddard Award and a NASA Early Career Achievement medal while at NASA Goddard. In the summer of 2017 I was the lead analyst for an acoustic test for the Orion Launch Abort system hatch at Plumbrook Station which was extremely loud (the whole building was shaking.)

Loud enough to shake a building is crazy!!! What was the best piece of advice you were given in life?

Never give up!

Short, but sweet.

Short but sweet! Since we are interviewing some cool people from NASA during this set of interviews, we have a hypothetical:  If a group of astronauts and a group of cavemen got into a fight, who would win?

The astronauts, especially if you include the pilots / former military. I grew up near Patuxent River Naval Air Station where the Navy has it’s test pilot school. Many astronauts study to be test pilots here. Most of the astronauts are in very good shape and very smart.

I am giving that point to the astronauts! Thanks again for taking the time to answer a few questions for us at Questions To Inspire and thanks everyone for reading. Be sure to check out some of our other interviews and stay tuned for new interviews in the future!

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