Meet: Angie Lee
Experiment Systems Manager
Johnson Space Center
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.