Meet Anne Corwin
Ames Research Center
Check out her field journals!
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.
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
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