Meet: Leslie Ringo
Flight Simulation Engineer, Vertical Motion Simulator
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA
Who I Am
The Vertical Motion Simulator at NASA Ames is the world's largest motion
simulator. I am one of the engineers responsible for ensuring this simulator
responds exactly as a real aircraft would in the air. Some of the simulations
I have worked on include the Comanche helicopter, Space Shuttle, and future
versions of fighter jet aircraft.
When I am assigned to a specific project I work on
that project from three to six months prior to the simulation. When the
simulation is actually running I will be located in the simulation laboratory.
In the laboratory I work with other aeronautical engineers and pilots
helping the research engineer to collect data that eventually may be used
in future generations of aircraft or to improve existing technology in
The type of work I do for a simulation varies for
each phase of a simulation development period. First, I work with a mathematical
representation of an aircraft. This "math model" first must be checked
out to verify its accuracy. Once I know the aircraft "math model" is correct
I work on integrating a cab to the "math model." The cab is where the
pilots fly from. It contains a realistic out-the-window image, cockpit
displays, and the controls that allow the pilot to fly the simulated aircraft.
Once everything is integrated and all of the research engineer's requirements
are met, the fun begins. It's time to fly!
My Career Journey
My career journey started at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, in obtaining my
B.S. in aeronautical engineering. From my first day of college I was immediately
learning about the aeronautical engineering world. As a result, I knew
a little something about almost every branch of aeronautical engineering.
These classes covered helicopters, rockets, space aircraft, commercial
aircraft, military aircraft and enough "basics" to be able to design an
aircraft from scratch. Having been exposed to such a large amount of information
and possible future careers I knew I would enjoy anything as long as it
was related to aeronautical engineering.
While working on my M.S. in mechanical engineering
at U.C. Berkeley, I obtained a summer student job at the Vertical Motion
Simulator at NASA Ames. I enjoyed the job and continued working part time
until I finished my degree. At that point, I started working full time
and have been here for over two years. This is a job that has utilized
much of my undergraduate degree and a job that I have really enjoyed.
In high school I always preferred math and science over English and social
studies. I was lucky to have teachers who noticed my likes and encouraged
me to achieve more. My pre-calculus and calculus teacher, Mr. Trigs, and
chemistry teacher, Mr. Nordell, were great teachers in making math and
science interesting and fun. I decided something related to math and science
was a future career I wanted to do for a living.
My other major influence was my family. I grew up
in a Navy military family life. As a result, I was exposed to the aviation
world at a young age. I also happened to live in San Diego where the Top
Gun Naval Fighter Training School was located. I can still remember driving
around and seeing jet fighters in the sky. Something "clicked" and I decided
aeronautical engineering would be perfect for me.
Likes/Dislikes About Career
I love my job and the fact that I get to work on many different types
of aircraft. What makes this job even better is having the opportunity
to work with other individuals who also enjoy working with aircraft of
all types. From one assignment to the next I never know what task or aircraft
I will be assigned to, and this always keeps me looking forward to my
next assignment. My one minor dislike is the fact that there are so many
interesting projects to work on, yet there is only one of me to be assigned
to a project. I love learning about everything and only wish there were
a couple spares of myself to be able to work on more projects.
I was very quiet and shy as a kid, but I did not let this stop me from
trying things. I ended up forcing myself into situations that got me involved
in many activities. As a result, I had become editor-in-chief of my high
school year book, a flag twirler in the marching band, and member of several
clubs. In college I continued this same philosophy of just getting involved
and continued to achieve in spite of my shyness and always being a quiet
individual. I don't believe that you always have to speak up to be heard.
I believe you always have the option of going in and doing a good job
to get noticed.
I am your typical "military brat." I was born in London, England, and
spent the next 15 years of my life moving from country to country. After
that, it was college time and I gradually migrated from sunny San Diego
to the Silicon Valley. Where I live now is very different from San Diego,
but I enjoy the area and where I work.
Some of my favorite hobbies include roller blading,
watching movies, and reading. I love to do tons of other things and it
works out great living in this area. The opportunities are endless.
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