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Meet: Bruce Gilbaugh

Engineering Technician

My Journals
Who I Am
I am an engineering technician. I support the Integrated Systems Technology Branch. I support the integration of computer systems and test the hardware for bringing real world conditions into the computer environment. This includes pressure sensor data, engine temperature data, and many others. This input is used by programmers to improve the programs they are writing. These programs control the computers that are used to fly airplanes

Sometimes I am responsible for networking just two computers together, and sometimes I am responsible for solving larger network problems. Another day I might be working on a simulator to determine how control surfaces react.

My Career Path
I have a mechanic and machinist background. My dad had some machines that we tinkered with. I took Auto Shop, or automobile mechanics, at Saratoga High School. I learned to use the mill to resurface the heads on my car. We used the lathe to turn the crankshaft and valve train components. We used grinders similar to the mill for grinding the valves on the engine. I was a California state certified auto mechanic before I came to NASA Ames Research Center. I went to West Valley College for a year. Then I went to work, got married, and had two boys.

I also have a background in electronics. I studied electronics at San Jose City College and Las Positas Community College. I started here as a wind tunnel machinist specialist. I have also operated wind tunnels, been a model mechanic, and an instrumentation technician. I have built many control boxes to remotely move model parts during tests and sense problems with the wind tunnel model. I got my Bachelors of Science degree in Information Systems Management at the University of San Francisco.

I am still in school studying for a Masters degree in Telecommunications at Golden Gate University. So you see you never really stop learning.

What I like About My Job
Because I have a more interesting job with an opportunity to do many different things I enjoy coming to work to be part of a team that makes things happen. It's like being a part of a soccer team that works together to score goals. I enjoy being a part of a team where we work together and share in the sense of accomplishment in the end. You need people skills for teamwork. What I don't like about my job is that there are never enough hours in the day. The number of staff members is decreasing.

As a Child
When I was little I was constantly getting into my dad's workshop. I used to chew electrical cords, which predicated my interest in electronics. I had three teachers that I believed influenced and encouraged me. My drafting and auto shop teachers reinforced my interests and challenged me. I read Popular Mechanics, Science, and Electronics. When I was in the eighth grade my teacher was my mentor in the ham radio world. He brought in his radio, and we could use the radio to talk to sailors and soldiers in Vietnam. I got my novice amateur radio license then.

I know that schoolwork is hard and not fun, but it's what we need to do our jobs. I think that your mental approach can make it more interesting or fun by learning the real world applications for your studies.

I didn't understand why I had to study chemistry. My teacher asked what I was interested in, and I answered that I liked to work on cars. Then my teacher pointed out the example of a car's battery as a real world application of chemistry. In a battery there is hydrogen, sulfur, and lead creating a chemical reaction that makes the battery work. The reaction between the differential plates and the liquid inside make the battery able to start your car. Chemistry also comes in handy if the battery explodes; you need to find an opposite material to treat the burn.

Education is vital today, not only to be competitive in the work force but even just to get into the work force. When I was young you could get in with just a high school diploma. Now, most employers don't want you unless you have at least a bachelor's degree. Employers want to know that you are interested in learning because this is the Information Age, and you have to be aware of the impact of all this information.

I met my wife in college, and she is my best friend. One of my sons is in the Army. He has a background in electronics. My youngest son is a student at San Jose State University majoring in Administration of Justice.

My hobbies are my job, electronics, radio, photography, videography, computers, mechanics, and working on my 1964 Ford Mustang Convertible. I enjoyed taking pictures of my kids and now my granddaughter.


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