Meet: Michel Liu
Development Group Leader
Wind Tunnel Systems Branch
NASA Ames Research Center
Who I Am
I am the development group leader for the wind tunnel systems branch at
NASA Ames Research Center. I lead a group that develops the computer systems
used in the wind tunnels to collect data from the wind tunnel and the
model being tested in the wind tunnel. My group provides the data acquisition
system being used for the Wright Flyer test.
My Career Path
When I was growing up, I was very interested in NASA and in the space
program. I was fortunate enough to grow up during the early days of the
space program. I remember watching the Mercury and Gemini launches and
then followed the Apollo launches when we first landed on the Moon. I
also had a big interest in Astronomy - the stars, planets, nebula, comets,
and galaxies. These two interests help to steer my career path to NASA.
In high school I worked part time during the school year and during one
summer here at Ames in the space science area. I went to UC Berkeley and
earned a Bachelor's degree in Astronomy.
My Career at Ames
After graduation I got a job as a computer programmer working for a Contractor
here at Ames (there weren't many or any jobs in Astronomy). I started
out in the Arcjet facility where we tested heat shields and Space Shuttle
tiles. I moved to the wind tunnels in 1984 and worked on supporting the
wind tunnel data acquisition systems. In 1990, I got a job working for
NASA as a project leader for a new data acquisition system for the 40x80
and 80x120 wind tunnels. Recently, I became the development group leader,
and I oversee the data system efforts for all of the major wind tunnels
here at Ames.
What I Like About My Job
Ames is a great place to work. The wind tunnels are fascinating - we get
to test new aircraft and concepts. We also get to use some of the latest
computers and hardware that is available. The people I work with are very
smart, and I enjoy working with them as we put new computers into the
As a Child
I have always enjoyed Math and Science. When I was growing up, I had a
telescope, and I enjoyed looking at the planets, the moon, and the stars.
I also enjoyed reading science fiction, going to science fiction movies,
and I am a Star Trek fan.
What helped me is that I had a strong interest in Math and Science, and
I got into NASA through the use of computers. I think a background in
computer science or electrical engineering is the way to pursue a career
I pretty much decided when I was 5 years old that I would work for NASA.
I basically found a way to make it happen. There are many paths to follow
that will lead you to your goal. You may not realize at first that a particular
path will lead you there, but it can happen.
I will most likely work towards a management position in the long term.
I enjoy my current job and would like to pursue it for at least the next
My interests include amateur astronomy, photography, and travel. My background
is Native American (I am part Navajo), and I am the chair of the Native
American Advisory Committee here at Ames. I am married and my wife enjoys
many of the same interests as myself. I really enjoy traveling in the
Southwest and exploring the many natural wonders, the ancient civilizations
in the southwest, as well as the Native cultures.