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Meet: Cheryl Bowman, Ph.D.

Case Western Reserve Univ./NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio
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 engines.

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 I expected.

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.


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