Meet: Dennis Michael Heher
Who I am
I am a knowledge engineer at NASA Ames Research Center developing a computer program called PI-in-a-Box (the 'PI' stands for principal investigator). As a knowledge engineer, my job is to try to capture some of the expertise of the Sleep team scientists in a computer program. Since the Sleep team scientists will not be on the Shuttle to help the astronauts, PI-in-a-Box will be used by the Neurolab crew as an aid while they instrument themselves for the Sleep experiment.
My Career Journey
It wasn't until I was in college that I decided on a computer related career. Computers are being used in so many different places and in so many different fields, that I knew that I could find a fun and rewarding career working with computers.
Likes/Dislikes about career
Finding a job at NASA where I could pursue my career is a very positive aspect. There's nothing like being able to work with astronauts to give your career some excitement. The computer field is ever changing and requires you to constantly work at keeping current, which is both a positive and negative aspect. It's positive in that you are constantly learning new things, but negative in that work you did not too long ago can quickly become obsolete and of no use.
Make sure you are having fun and enjoying what you are doing! No matter what career you choose, if you aren't having fun, why do it? As far as preparing for a career in the computer field, you need to enjoy mathematics. Learning the problem-solving skills that you need for math will definitely help you with computers.
Preparation for career
I always enjoyed trying to figure out how things worked. This gave me some of the analytical skills that I need in my job. Many people have influenced me in one way or another. I have been fortunate to have many wonderful teachers and professors throughout the years I've been in school. My parents, especially my dad, gave me the encouragement to pursue whatever career I wanted. So for me, it wasn't a single person, but quite a lot of people who've influenced me.
I am married and have two children. My wife's name is Judi, and we have been married now for over 11 years. My daughter, Leah, is eight years old and is in the third grade. My son, Patrick, is six years old and is in the first grade. Both of my children are on soccer teams, so I spend a lot of my time on Saturdays watching them play. I enjoy running and try to run in a 10K race at least once a month.