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Meet: Angie Lee

Experiment Systems Manager
Johnson Space Center

photo of angie lee

Who I am and what I do:

I am an Experiment Systems Manager at the Johnson Space Center. My job is to help the scientists develop and obtain the things they need to make their experiments work in space. I love my job because it makes me feel like I'm helping to make a difference in the world. Some of these experiments could lead to new cures and treatments for diseases. The lack of gravity creates conditions in the body similar to certain diseases which gives the scientists the unique opportunity to study these conditions on a healthy person instead of someone who is very sick.

My job is to take the experiment, and the investigators/scientists who developed it, through the whole process needed to make their experiments work in space. I help them take their idea for an experiment and turn it into something that can fly on the space shuttle.

The Spacelab, to be used for STS-90, is about the size of a school bus and sits inside the payload bay of the shuttle. It's connected to the crew compartment (the mid-deck and the flight-deck, where the astronauts actually live and work) with a tunnel that the astronauts float through to get back to the Spacelab. Everything needed to perform the experiments sent up is in the lab. We also train the astronauts on how to do the experiments. We will monitor the experiment activities during the mission in the Science Center, which is like a small Mission Control center for the scientists. I will have shifts "sitting console" there, during the mission.

My Career Journey

I went to Texas A&M and earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. While I was at A&M, I began working as a cooperative education student at NASA. My parents wanted me to stay in Houston, and NASA was one of the only places with biomedical engineering jobs. My first tour was in SRQA (Safety, Reliability & Quality Assurance). It was interesting, but not what I really wanted to work on. My next three tours were in the Life Sciences Projects Division (now called Payload & Experiment Management Office), which is where I work now. I started off assisting with projects, and as my experience grew, I got my own projects.

Advice

Don't be discouraged if you're having a hard time with math, or any other class. Work hard, study, and stay focused, and one day it will all make sense. That happened to me with math. If you have a choice, take the hard teachers not the easy ones. You will have to work harder for your grades, but you'll probably learn more. Engineering is tough! If you study and work hard, you can do it. I'm an example of that.

Personal Information

I just bought a house, so redecorating, painting and gardening has kept me pretty busy. I love to cook and entertain. One of my favorite things to do is to invite people over and cook the whole deal - from the appetizers to the dessert. I grew up in Missouri City, a suburb southwest of Houston. Now I live in Clear Lake City. I am not married and have no children. I do have a cat named Squealer. photo of cat

Squealer's story
Squealer is a short-haired black cat with yellow eyes. He was found at JSC, in the parking lot. He had crawled up on top of the gas tank of someone's car (who rode in from Galveston). Someone walking by heard him crying and rescued him. He was put in a box, and later I went over to see him. I'm the only person he didn't hiss at, so I picked him up. He let out a little squeal of a meow, and I said, "You're a little squealer," and it stuck. I've had him six years now. He talks all the time and loves to play in the water (but hates his bath!).

My family
My parents are from Colorado, and they came to Houston just before I was born. My dad worked for Shell Oil Company. They lived here until just a couple of years ago. Now they are retired and building a home on 75 acres in Tyler, Texas. I have a younger brother, who's now a grad student at Texas A&M.

When I was growing up, my family took weekend trips all the time in the summer. My dad built and flew model airplanes, so we went to different competitions. Then once each summer, we'd take a two week trip to a national competition. We'd take our time getting home, seeing whatever was on the way - we visited the Great Lakes, Disneyland, and the Grand Canyon this way.

Growing up
Growing up in the Houston area, I was exposed to a lot of the city's advantages - museums, fine arts, and theater - and I was exposed to NASA, visiting the Johnson Space Center with my family. As a kid, I read all the time. It drove my brother nuts, because when I was reading, I wasn't playing with him. The first tooth I lost was knocked out by my brother because I wouldn't play "horsey" with him.

I read all the Black Stallion books and all the of the Dragon Rider series. Even as an adult, I love reading because it allows me to experience other worlds and see from someone else's point of view. It's like crawling in their head and seeing through their eyes.

In junior high, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but by the time I got to high school, I'd changed my mind and wanted to become a doctor. However, by the time I went to college, the idea of eight to twelve more years of school didn't appeal to me. I was still interested in medicine, but I ended up choosing mechanical engineering because it has a greater variety of job opportunities in many different areas.

In junior high school, I was in the school band. I played the clarinet. I really enjoyed the competitions, and I won some awards. I also had braces. They were painful at times, all the wires and screws. When I got my braces off, I had to re-teach myself the clarinet, but my teeth look so nice now and fit into my mouth comfortably.

Future goals
I want to always be involved in something that will make a difference in the world, the people in it, and the future. Whatever I end up doing, I want to stay in the biomedical or biomedical engineering field. I feel that what I do directly influences people's health and well-being.


 
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