Meet: Cheryl Bowman, Ph.D.
Case Western Reserve Univ./NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland,
Life Prediction Branch
Who I am ...
My name is Cheryl Bowman and I am a materials research engineer working
at the NASA Glenn Research Center. I specialize in testing strength and
durability of aeronautical materials, including metals and composites
(high-tech fiberglass). My job is a mixture of materials engineering and
mechanical engineering. I perform mechanical tests on new materials to
analyze their strength and durability, and then I predict how long the
material will survive in different applications. My current projects apply
to aeronautical (airplane) engines, satellite motors, and space vehicle
I think engineering is fun and exciting. I love solving
problems and being able to work both with my hands and my mind. I do many
different things including helping make new materials, testing them, and
using computer simulations to learn why new materials fail. Sometimes
I solve problems on my own, but I usually work as part of a team. I work
and share ideas with people at different companies, laboratories, and
universities all over the world.
Where I came from ...
I grew up on a farm in southern Missouri and I thought about becoming
a veterinarian. But when I was in the eighth grade, I decided that I wanted
to build space ships. Because I came from a very small high school and
had only a few classes in science and math, college engineering classes
were especially hard work. I am so glad I "toughed it out" because I love
my job with NASA.
How I got to NASA Glenn ...
While in college, I was involved in a co-op program that allowed me to
alternate semesters of classes with semesters of work. While studying
for my B.S. in materials engineering, I worked at a plastics factory,
a steel mill, the Idaho National Engineer Laboratory, and NASA in Cleveland.
This work experience helped me focus on what I wanted to do after college,
and I strongly recommend participating in a college co-op program.
I completed my Masters and Ph.D. degrees while working
on projects for NASA. Graduate school was much easier and more fun than
What else I do ...
I am chairman of the student affairs committee of the local chapter of
ASM International (a professional engineering society). My personal hobbies
can generally be divided into "learning new stuff" and "creating stuff."
Currently I am learning to play folk music on a harmonica and trying to
invent a new pumpkin cookie recipe. My enduring, favorite pastime is hiking
in the woods with my husband and dog.