I Want A Pet Turkey – B&W Pic

We are nearing the end, the picture book is about to be sent over to the publishers within two weeks and will be on sale shortly after that. Can’t wait to have an official release. To celebrate this, enjoy a black and white picture of one of the pages.

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!

I Want A Pet Turkey – B&W Pic

We are nearing the end, the picture book is about to be sent over to the publishers within two weeks and will be on sale shortly after that. Can’t wait to have an official release. To celebrate this, enjoy a black and white picture of one of the pages.

Puppet Project- Dragonfire

Good morning everyone!!!

I wanted to share a friend’s post about their new project called Dragonfire. My friend, Jennifer, is a professional puppeteer and storyteller who has been working on a new storytelling opportunity. The best way to describe Dragonfire is in Jennier’s own words:

“Dragonfire stems directly from my desire to express myself and my faith in a unique way. I knew had something important to say, but I didn’t know what it was or how to say it. The idea of that desire burning inside gave me the idea for the character Kenna (which is an old Celtic name meaning born of flames), from her came the dragons, from them came the story.” Dragonfire asks, “how do stories help the suffering?” And answers by showing a little girl finding her very own dragonfire inside, using it to call on the Third Dragon herself and send a demon dog running. 

The project has received a small grant from the Experimental Puppetry Theatre Program for all other expenses, so it is a guaranteed to be on stage. When you support Dragonfire, however big or small, you will be helping Jennifer and her team bring the story to life by giving toward practical needs like food, housing and travel while in Atlanta for the performances.

If you could please check out her Indiegogo page if donate and if you can’t donate then please share the page. I desperately want to see Jennifer reach her dreams, because if it wasn’t for her helping me in the early steps of I Want A Pet Turkey then I wouldn’t be in a place to see my dreams come to life this year either. She worked with me over countless hours to get a storyboard, basic designs, and even helped me with the business side of making my children’s book. Now we can help her to fulfill her dreams.

Interview – NASA – Keith Woodman, PhD

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 – Small Business Innovation Research – Keith Woodman, PhD!

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

I am NASA’s SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) operations manager for Human Space Exploration. SBIR is a government-wide initiative to help American small businesses by letting them help us develop the technologies we need. My job is to oversee the investment process; tell small businesses what we need and review the technology proposals they come back with. NASA invests close to $200M each year in SBIR companies.

I have worked for Langley Research Center in Hampton VA for thirty years now. It has been a great place to work and supported my education, from community college all the way to a PhD. For the last seven years, I have also taught for American Military University’s graduate space program.

So you have grown with Langley for awhile now. Many people don’t know how much NASA does for the scientific world and for environmental studies. I think the consensus is that it is only about space. Can you talk about your area of NASA and what are the goals that you hope to accomplish?

Since I support Human Space Exploration, I am primarily interested in the technologies that will help our astronauts live and work in low earth orbit (like the International Space Station), on the moon, and eventually Mars. I hope that many of the technologies we develop for space, like new materials and medicines, will help many people here on Earth as well.

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?

Even though I had always wanted to work for NASA, I honestly never thought I would. I was a very average student in high school and no one in my family had ever gone to college. NASA offered an opportunity through the local community colleges for a chance to come and work, provided that you made good grades that first year in college. That gave me a goal and an incentive and that’s all I needed. I became a much better than average student and earned a spot at NASA, and this began a lifelong love of the agency and of academia (like I said, I now have a PhD and teach for a college).

One of the 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?

My father always emphasized the importance of math so even though I wasn’t great in other subjects in high school, he demanded I be good at math. Thank goodness he did or else I would not be where I am now. A lot of people think they can’t be good in math and with an attitude like that, they never will be. You have to give math a chance and just keep practicing. If you do, one day it will just “click” and all of a sudden you’ll find that you can be good at math, you might even enjoy it (for example, I loved Calculus!).

It’s hard not be good at math and then not be good at science (like physics) and engineering, they go hand-in-hand. So concentrate of the math first and build off of that. STEM skills are always in high demand and can lead to a lot of opportunities, including NASA

What would you consider your greatest accomplishment in your career?

The thing I cherish most is finishing my PhD which I could not have done without the support of NASA. That’s kind of a short answer so the two runners-ups were developing a technology that was patented (protected by the government) and licensed (a company liked it so much they bought it) and getting to work mission operations for a shuttle launch.

How amazing is that! Let’s talk about inspiration. What was the best piece of advice that was given to you that has really stuck with you through your life?

When you are the leader of a team or group, always take responsibility. Don’t try and lay blame on others. If something goes wrong, take responsibility, say “This happened because I didn’t….” and give suggestions about how to make sure the mistake is not repeated. This gives you credibility to those who work for you and those in charge of you

That is really great advice! Thank you so much Keith, for talking to us today. I want to end on one last question and it is incredibly serious. If a group of astronauts and a group of cavemen got into a fight, who would win?

Ah…the greatest managerial response of all…it depends…

It depends on which astronauts we’re talking about, many of our astronauts come from the armed services so know how to fight. Also, if the astronauts are given any time to plan and coordinate they will absolutely win because they are really good at dealing with emergency situations. If you choose the wrong astronauts and don’t give them any preparation time, then the cavemen are going to bonk some heads.

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!




New Artwork Coming Soon

We should have some new artwork for I Want A Pet Turkey coming this week. We are getting closer! Stay tuned!

Interview – NASA – Jessica Snyder

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 – Flight Simulation Software Engineer – Jessica Snyder!

Jessica, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today on Questions To Inspire. Can you please start out with telling us a little bit about yourself and what you do at NASA?

I’m a flight simulation software engineer in the Simulation Development and Analysis Branch and NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC), located in Hampton, Virginia. I am also a graduate student at Old Dominion University, getting my master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. I’ve been interning at LaRC for the last five years and have loved it the entire time. On a day-to-day basis, I am either programming software for flight simulators for commercial aircraft (like the kind most citizens fly on at the airport), or I am developing a simulation for a robotic, in-space assembly mechanism that would be used to build large habitat structures in Low Earth Orbit.

How awesome to hear what you are working on! Let’s talk about NASA. I think the general view of the Agency is that NASA is only about space, but it actually is a giant in the scientific world. Can you talk about your area of NASA and what are the goals that you hope to accomplish?

NASA employees do research and work in a LOT of fields, not just space exploration. NASA, which stands for “National Aeronautics and Space Administration”, focuses a lot on aeronautics as well – it’s actually how we started! NASA, which used to be the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), started around the time the Wright Brothers had their first flight, and researchers in the NACA focused primarily on airplanes and other aircraft. Today, NASA is still doing a lot of research on atmospheric aircraft, both commercial and military, along with research in the fields of science, environmentalism, and even health.

In my branch, we support a lot of aircraft-based research. Our goal is to improve the safety of the national air space, making it safer for people like you and me to travel all across the world. The flight simulators we support allow researchers to test new equipment that will increase the autonomy of the flight system or will help pilots remain more attentive, improving the overall efficiency and safety of the aircraft and all passengers on-board.

We support space-based simulation work as well. In the past, we’ve developed high-fidelity simulators for the Apollo moon landing missions and for the Space Shuttle program, making it safer for our astronauts to fly. Nowadays, we’re developing simulations for in-space robotic assembly systems that will help us build large structures in Low Earth Orbit, making it less expensive for people to eventually live in space. The simulations we develop allow us to test case scenarios long before we ever launch and ultimately help ensure the success of these missions.

It is crazy to see how far we have come from the first flight to building structures in Low Earth Orbit. Let’s talk about you working at NASA, what was your reaction and what did others say when you told them you were working at NASA?

The reaction was mostly elation. I remember getting that first email telling me that I’d be getting my first internship at NASA. I was so excited, and everyone in my family was excited for me. And I remember getting my first co-op offer, which would ultimately help me land a permanent position at NASA. I was running down the halls, jumping for joy. My mom, of course, started bragging to everyone she knew that her daughter works for NASA (and she still does, five years later).

I bet she will be bragging for years to come too! 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?

It’s extremely important, in my opinion. Focusing on STEM subjects not only opens up your future to a career in science and engineering fields, but it gives you the tools to succeed in all areas of your life. I believe learning STEM subjects helps students think more analytically, taking into account every piece of evidence in this world and following step-by-step processes to help you reach all of your goals.  STEM can inspire discovery and curiosity in young children too, teaching them how to question everything and inspiring them to improve things, which is important to the innovation of this world.

I don’t know if it was necessarily my favorite subject, but I was especially good at math. My mom, being a math teacher herself, taught me how to tackle problems in a careful step-by-step manner and always to double check my work. I think that was a large reason why I continued to excel in STEM related subjects later in life, because of that skill I developed early on. Over time, I have grown more proud of this ability, and find it helps a lot in my day-to-day job.

So Jessica, what would you consider your greatest accomplishment of your career?

My greatest accomplishment is not any technical project I’ve worked on, though there have been plenty of those. I think my greatest accomplishment, the one I’m most proud of, is the ability I’ve developed to reach out to the community to bring people together and teach them something new. It’s one thing to create technology that will improve the world and quality of life for all that live on it, which I am very capable of doing, but it’s another thing to be able to care deeply about those people, give back, and share everything you know with them. So I consider my greatest accomplishments in my career to be those times when I’ve done STEM outreach, community service, or helped to build family through NASA.

I love this answer!!! We do a lot of outreach and volunteering at Moose Egg, so it is always cool to see others that give back in their community. Do you have any good advice that you were given that has really stayed with you?

It wasn’t explicit advice – no mantra of sorts – but it was made very clear to me all throughout my life that you can bring great joy to others through service, and through that service you do for others you may find joy yourself.

That is a really good idea to life by. We are at the end of our time and I would like to end with one last question that we have been asking all of our NASA interviewees, if a group of astronauts and a group of cavemen were made to fight, who would win?

It depends – do the cavemen have clubs? Are they allowed to fight with them? How big are the cavemen? Aren’t they fairly built people? Astronauts typically have to be smaller people so it’s easier to fit them in the launch capsules. I’d imagine the cavemen are probably larger built than the astronauts and probably stronger because they spend a lot of time hunting. Astronauts have to be physically in shape as well, but they don’t have to be prepared to fight off a saber tooth tiger or anything. So I think the cavemen would win in hand-to-hand combat; however, if they fight was in space, I don’t think the cavemen would have a very good feel for floating around in free-fall. The astronauts would be able to maneuver more easily and maybe trick the cavemen into traps they could set up.

Another win for the cavemen (I am shocked that we haven’t had more astronaut answers). Jessica Snyder, thank you so much for talking with us today and answering a few questions for us at Questions To Inspire and thanks to everyone else for reading.

Be sure to check out some of our other interviews and stay tuned for new interviews in the future!