Meet: Jason R. Brown
Senior System Safety Engineer
NASA Ames Research Center
Who I Am
I perform Hazard Analyses and Risk Assessment Studies on wind tunnel research
projects and facility modifications, additions and expansions. I identify
appropriate controls and countermeasures that will either eliminate the
hazards or reduce the probability of damage to facilities, injury to personnel
or harm to the environment. For the Wright Flyer, I am evaluating the
safety issues associated with the Variable Frequency Power used to drive
the model's motor and also helping Jim Barnes to evaluate the Wright Flyer
My Career Path
I knew I wanted to be an engineer when I was in the eighth grade, so I
took all the math, science and drafting classes I could in High School.
I went to the University of California at Berkeley and studied mechanical
engineering and materials science/ metallurgy , finally deciding to concentrate
on the materials science. One of the courses I took involved studying
how and why materials fail. This got me interested in evaluating failures
of equipment and systems in general and lead to my job as a system safety
engineer. In system safety, rather than waiting for equipment to fail,
we try to predict what may go wrong, sometimes before the equipment even
exists. Based on these predictions, we then suggest design changes or
other safety controls that will eliminate or control these hazards.
I started at NASA-Ames in 1988, first working on Space Shuttle Payloads
for studying Life Science. I evaluated hazards on hardware that flew on
three Shuttle missions. I then became involved in evaluating hazards associated
with major modifications and upgrades to the Unitary Wind Tunnel. In 1995
I became the Safety and Quality Assurance manager for the NFAC 40x80 Wind
Tunnel acoustic modification. I was responsible for making sure the hazards
in the new design were controlled and also evaluating the construction
area for day-to-day safety concerns. I am currently involved with hazard
evaluation of tests and facility changes in all of the Code FO facilities.
Why I like my Job
The best part about my job is the variety of things and technologies I
am able to get involved with. One day it can be talking with test engineers
on the aerodynamics of flutter on a wing, the next day it could involve
evaluating the safety of very high voltage switching equipment and motors.
Every day is different.
Because of all the things I can get involved in, it can sometimes be
hard to keep track of everything that is going on. This is one of the
challenges of my job, but I still enjoy it very much.
As a Child
When I was young, I always enjoyed building model airplanes. I also loved
to draw designs of spaceships and model airplanes to build. I read a lot
of science fiction and anything I could get my hands on about America's
space program and rockets. My dad was a watchmaker and jeweler, so I was
exposed to precision machines and metalworking since the beginning.
Since in this type of work you never know what knowledge you may need
to do your job from day to day, always be prepared to learn! Also, have
a plan, but don't be surprised if something you learned years ago, and
never thought you would need to know, will prove to be invaluable for
solving a problem. If someone had told me in the eighth grade that one
day I would be working at the world's largest wind tunnel on rotorcraft
and aircraft models and the Wright Flyer, I wouldn't have believed them.
Take a wide variety of subjects in High School and College, and try out
a number of things to see what you really like. Where you end up will
undoubtedly surprise you.
My parents instilled in me the importance of learning all that I could.
I had a drafting teacher in High School that taught philosophy while also
teaching how to draw. Finally, I had a Materials Science professor in
College (the one that taught the course on how and why materials fail)
that really showed me the importance of doing something that you love
to do and get paid to do it.
I want to continue to expand my knowledge and understanding of how things
work so my ability to adapt to any changes will be increased.
My wife Mary and I spend our spare time herding our seven cats. (I have
always heard that herding cats is impossible. It is quite easy, once you
open a can of cat food...) We also love to plan improvements to our home,
and I enjoy woodworking and working on computers.
Archived QuestChats with Jason Brown