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Meet: Christian Beins

Intellectual Property Officer
Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

My Journals

My Job
My job is a little hard to describe unless you know about real property (land, houses), tangible property (cars, apples) and intangible property (software, patents). Let's say that my job is to help NASA engineers and scientists work with lawyers and business people to understand the ideas, the software, and the licenses and ways to protect and use NASA computer information. I try to help business and schools with our software. I try to make sure that those good ideas and computer programs are protected and safe from hackers.

My Career Journey:
My mother still asks me why I never stay in one job very long. I tell her that "times are different now." "Needs change, jobs change, and I change with them." I've been an army platoon leader, developed optical inspection gadgets, been involved with computers and glass producing furnaces, taught university math courses, toiled as a tax attorney, and worked on a dozen or more NASA microgravity and aeronautics projects. I've been a "full-time, part-time" student as well. Over a long time, at least 20 years, I earned graduate degrees in engineering and law. All of those past experiences help me understand new problems so we can try to find solutions to them.

Career Likes/Dislikes:
I like new challenges and solving problems. I like to think I help my co-workers by making their jobs easier, doing my part so they can do their parts. I like to work with a team, but I also like time to think "on my own." I don't like to do the same thing over and over. (That's where computers can help sometimes.) I'm not very keen about correcting and grading papers - but sometimes even that is rewarding when I see students are learning and come up with clever ideas.

Filing paperwork is on the bottom of my list. But I still have to do that too, sometimes.

Childhood Influences on my Career:
Mom and Dad gave me a great start. Made sure I did my homework and taught me the value of life-long learning. My Grandfather added special things like travel and fishing trips. He also stressed the importance of always trying your best.

Personal Influences on my Career:
My wife tries to keep me on the straight and narrow path. She says it is nearly impossible. I had some good advisors in undergraduate and graduate school. They helped me with several career choices. One of the most interesting was Dr. Milt Netter. He convinced me to try law school. For an engineer, that was a real eye-opener.

You've heard this before. Do well in school, study hard. Take every opportunity you can to expand your education. But don't become stuck in just one area. I've found that you need some very special proficiency, like math or science or electrical engineering, but also "people" skills, getting along with others too. Classes like history, government, business, English, and yes, even spelling are important. Try to save some time for yourself. Personal time to do something that you especially enjoy.

Career Ambitions:
I expect to work for NASA for at least 8-10 more years, and then I'd like to continue teaching part-time. I like to interact with students. Students keep me young and ask interesting questions, like "why?" And I feel satisfaction when I can give back some of the opportunities that others made available for me.

Personal Information:
I grew up with two older sisters, and two younger sisters. As the only boy, I got some special treatment - it was my job to turn the garden, cut the grass, walk the dog and shovel snow. To this day, I can't cook.

My Dad was an engineer at Bell Labs. Once, he met Albert Einstein on a tour of the Lab. Dad worked on vacuum tubes and microwave devices. Toward the end of his career, he was responsible for setting up the microwave relay towers across the midwest. That was before satellites. Dad helped me build simple radios. He would have loved computers! My mom was busy rising us kids, running Brownie and Girl Scout troops, and making sure we did our homework. She volunteered at the library and taught violin and piano too. I had two aunts who were librarians also. They made sure we always had books and read a lot.

School was important in our young lives. Readin', writin' and lots of arithmetic. I did pretty well in school except for spelling and handwriting. I still can't spell very well, but I find the spell-checkers the greatest thing on earth!

I played a lot of sports in high school. Third base in softball. Would you believe a 5'10" power forward? Sounds small now, but we got to the district finals my senior year before bowing out in a one point loss. College was a new horizon in a new city. I finished the math and science requirements for a physics degree. Probably would be classified as a "nerd" now. I still use a slide rule now and then. I also met my wife-to-be on a blind date.

We have six grown children. Those living close still drop in on weekends when they are hungry. And sometimes when they're not hungry too. We have 11 grandchildren scattered in Virginia, Tennessee and Michigan, as well as Ohio.

It's still my job to dig up and weed the garden. We specialize in varieties of tomatoes. My wife and I have three "rescued" dachshunds - Victoria, Benjamin and Pierre. Victoria and Pierre are red. Benjamin is black. They provide a lot of good company and really enjoy walks!


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