Meet: Katherine Martin
Technology Transfer Specialist-I,
Lewis Research Center
My job title is Technology Transfer Specialist-I. I was added to the High
Speed Research (HSR) Propulsion Project Office staff to encourage and
implement the transfer of technology and expertise developed for HSR to
other uses. The main reason for this is to show U.S. taxpayers (and Congress)
that the tax dollars being spent to develop technologies are being put
to maximum use!
Also, as a result of staff changes during my five-year
tenure within the High Speed Systems Office, I have taken on additional
responsibilities in the area of technology control. This involves protecting
sensitive technologies which might compromise the U.S. competitive position
in the worldwide aeronautical market if disclosed to U.S. industry competitors.
My Career Journey
Because of my legal background (law degree) and corporate law experience,
I was hired by NASA to do procurement work 13 years ago. I had always
wanted to work for NASA because my brother had worked here for years and
said it was a great place! After about 10 years in procurement, I was
ready for a change and participated in the Women's Executive Leadership
Program. One of the other participants in this program suggested that
I contact my present supervisor, Dr. Robert (Joe) Shaw, about an opportunity
because she knew he was looking for someone with my (non-engineering)
The opportunity presented by Joe Shaw was one that
utilized my legal and procurement background, as well as my undergraduate
degree in Speech and Communications. This skill had been underutilized
in my previous positions and I was excited to take on this challenge because
of my qualifications as well as my interest in working closely with engineers
on a focused program.
Positive and Negative Aspects of My Career:
Positives: I feel as if all my education, experience and skills are being
fully utilized in this position. My supervisor gives me and all others
in our office freedom we need to do our duties, while maintaining a source
of advice and direction. Also, the needs of my family can be maintained
in a paramount position relative to my career due to the beauty of flex-time
and an understanding supervisor and staff. I have a husband and two boys
(ages 11 and 15) who are the highlights of my life. Without these people
in my life, I would be very unfulfilled and unhappy.
Negatives: The uncertainty of continued funding for
the HSR Program makes for some nervousness. Also, the riskiness of the
technology being developed is also cause for concern. However, these negatives
are outweighed by the knowledge that technology transfer and control will
always be needed in many work areas.
Childhood Influences on my Career
Nothing really that I did as a child influenced my career. I never developed
an interest in law or speaking until I was in college. I learned to write
well as a senior in high school because of a great English teacher I was
privileged to have. My first exposure to public speaking was in a required
speech course as a freshman in college.
Personal Influences on my Career
My brother suggested going to law school when my plans to teach fell through
as a senior in college. I had absolutely hated student teaching and didn't
know what to do! Also, my speech professor at Muskingum College was very
influential. She was a mother who worked full time in the Speech Department
and was actually more effective than her husband, who was the head of
I'd advise young persons interested in a career like mine to take a debate
course as soon as possibleŠin high school. Also, learn how to speak and
write in a concise and clear manner. These skills are hard to come by
in this field, since most engineers concentrate on the other side of their
brain in what they do!
My future plans and goals:
My expectation is that I will continue to develop my expertise in the
transfer and control of technology, whether within this office for the
supersonic technology world or in a more general mode in another organization.
I'm always looking for other opportunities that would
make use of my basic skills of communication, legal understanding and