My career has taken flight to new heights that I never imagined before. As a parachute consultant for the Orion Spacecraft, I find myself working at over 10,000 feet to ensure the parachute system tests go as planned.
There are a lot of cool aspects to my job: learning new systems and working with extraordinary people. I enjoy working with the photographers on the chase helicopter during the parachute drop tests. I’m in the helicopter with the doors open, working with the team to make real time decisions to capture the right shots.
I bring experience to Orion from my work for the Navy — parachutes for ejection seats and bailout systems and chutes of all sizes for anything we need to slow down. I also work with the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab helping to design chutes for a Mars landing. Designing for Mars presents a whole new set of challenges and we’ll use this knowledge when humans travel to Mars on Orion.
I am proud that the work I do can and does save lives. It was very rewarding to work on the bailout system for the Shuttle astronauts, knowing that they could escape if there was a problem. My greatest accomplishment is working on a parachute system that saved the lives of a crew after their Navy aircraft caught fire.
I was born in Des Moines Iowa and grew up in Jefferson City Missouri. I was inspired by my older brother, who was an engineer. I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri, Columbia and began working at the Naval Warfare Center a year later. In 2005 my colleagues asked me to join the Orion Program.
I would tell students that there is a world of opportunities in the engineering field. Engineers have a chance to make a difference not only in the space program but in the lives of families and people all over the world.