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Meet Anne Corwin


Engineering Aide,
Ames Research Center

Check out her field journals!
Chat Archives

Who I Am
I was hired here at NASA through the Foothill-De Anza Internship Program. My official job title is "Engineering Aide", which means that I will be assisting the staff of the 40x80- and 80x120-foot wind tunnels with anything they need help with.

Since July, I have been working on a large-scale software development project. I am constructing a program in Macintosh FileMaker Pro 3.0 that will allow customers and users of the wind tunnels to set up and plan out their tests in an entirely electronic format. Previously, tests were set up on numerous disparate paper documents. With efficiency and progress in mind, the idea for the program I am creating was put forth. This project involves everything from graphic design to programming, and it has been an exciting and rewarding challenge so far.

As far as the Wright Flyer project is concerned, I am basically available to do anything those concerned feel I am qualified to do. This may mean using my program to set up certain parts of the test, being given simple engineering-related assignments, and/or answering questions about the test from anyone curious about what's going on.

In addition to my job here, I am a full-time student (28 units!) at De Anza College, where I am working on the undergraduate requirements for my electrical engineering degree. I plan to transfer to California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo in the fall of 1999.

My Career Path
I don't know if you'd exactly call my job here a career at this point, but after having worked at NASA for about three months, I know I would absolutely love to make my career here at Ames once I get my degree. I suppose I prepared for my job at NASA by simply being interested in math and science and concentrating on those subjects in school.

I have also grown up around computers, which has given me experience with everything from Mac graphics programs to HTML code to Microsoft Excel. I have had a ham radio license since I was 12 (call sign: KB1AME).

I didn't deliberately prepare for this job, it just came along and fit quite well with what I wanted and my level of experience. Before NASA, I worked as a cashier at Paramount's Great America and as a "coffee worker" at Peet's Coffee & Tea.

Why I Like My Job
My work here at NASA has been positive in every aspect I can think of. I was shocked that I actually got it, and I've learned more than I ever expected to. The only negative aspect I can think of is the hours I have to work. Since I can't work here on evenings or weekends, I have to split up my school schedule so that I can come here in the middle of the day. Four out of five days of the week, I have a morning class, NASA, and then a night class. But it's worth it to have access to the opportunities here.

As a Child
I can't remember when I first heard of NASA, but I can't remember NOT having heard of it, so I must have been quite young. I wanted to be an astronaut starting when I was probably four years old...the idea of space just fascinated me. While growing up, I went through several phases in terms of what I wanted to do as a career, but the interest in space, science and technology was always there. I grew up on Star Trek and Star Wars and a steady diet of science fiction literature. Hearing terms like "warp speed" and learning of concepts such as time travel sparked my interest in the practical aspects of research. I remember attempting to build a time machine in my backyard when I was in kindergarten. It consisted of a snow sled, a laundry basket, a Speak and Spell, and an Etch-A-Sketch. (Needless to say, it didn't do exactly what I wanted it to!)

When I hear of any young person who is interested in science and technology, I am really pleased, because that interest is perhaps the most important factor in choosing, enjoying, and performing well in any career. I'd urge young people (I guess I'm still kind of a young person at 19!) to stay motivated and keep up in their math and science classes. Read books about science topics that interest you, watch the Discovery Channel or PBS, and don't ever be ashamed of your interest. If people make fun of you at school and call you a "nerd" for being into science, remember that as well as being personally rewarding, technology-related careers can also be financially rewarding. When you're out there discovering life on Mars or developing useful computer programs, all those people who picked on you will most likely still be floundering. And you'll be making more money than them, besides.

Early Influences
My dad was definitely instrumental in encouraging me to pursue an engineering career. He wasn't pushy about it, but he always put things in perspective for me. When I was in the middle of high school, I played with the idea of becoming an English major (I loved to write and still do.). My dad told me, "You already know how to write. Why not use college to learn something you DON'T already know how to do?" He was never lavish with praise at my accomplishments, but he always made it quite clear to me that he thought I had potential, and that he knew I wouldn't be truly happy if I didn't live up to it. My dad was also the one who always had Star Trek on in the house from the time I was born, and the one who had a ready-made library of science fiction books. I really appreciate the fact that I was encouraged to go into math and science, even though they are not traditionally "female" subjects. My dad was never the type to say boys were better at math so I never grew up with the idea fixed in my head that I should have nothing in my adult life except kids and a husband.

Future Goals
In the future, I plan to work at NASA, but with my engineering degree. I also plan to go back and get one or two advanced degrees. My ultimate life-goal is to discover something new in the realm of physics that will be worthy of historical mention. I want to learn as much as I possibly can in my lifetime. It would also be nice to, at some point, write a science fiction novel and have it published.

Archived Chats with Anne Corwin


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