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Meet: José Limardo

Hardware Project Engineer
Johnson Space Center

Who I am:

I am a Hardware Project Engineer currently working on three experiments for the STS-90 Neurolab mission. These experiments are to research the effects of zero gravity on the human body's nervous system. I am a husband and a father of two.

What I do:

My job, regardless of the project, is to make sure that all the hardware necessary for a project is fabricated and built with the specifications and requirements from the scientist, or what we call the principal investigator. I also coordinate the fabrication and certification of this hardware. Hardware is anything physical that you can lay your hands on - electronic box, tape recorder, etc. During the length of the project, milestones must be met, and safety and design reviews must be passed. The team goes to Kennedy Space Center to do the individual and integration hardware testing prior to flight. I work close with the contractor as they actually build the hardware. It is a definite team effort and everyone has a job for the overall project.

Preparation for Career

I was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in the Bronx in New York City. I lived two blocks from Yankee Stadium. The neighborhood wasn't the safest, but my family helped me stay out of trouble. When I was 13, I moved back to Puerto Rico, where I attended high school and the University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez campus. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. As a hobby, I love working in the yard. I am an avid sports fan. As a child, I liked science and math and loved all books. I participated in lots of science fairs in elementary and junior high school, so I knew I enjoyed this field. In high school, I took all the math classes they offered, as I was fascinated with math. This was a good foundation for my future studies.

While attending college in Puerto Rico, I was a coop student at NASA. A coop student has the advantage to work and gain experience while in school. I did three coop terms - two springs and a summer. I believe I was the last coop student from the University of Puerto Rico. The coop program was my key to getting here at NASA. It's much harder to just walk in off the street with any work experience.

My Career Journey

After cooping, I was hired to do heat transfer analysis on shuttle tiles for the next eight years. From there, I went on rotation to the Medical Science Division (SD), working as a water quality engineer. In SD, the majority of my work was on the Mir Program (Russian Space Station), collecting water samples from Mir to analyze. (The same water recycle system will be used on the Russian side of the International Space Station.) I stayed in SD for one and a half years. At that point, I moved to the Biomedical Hardware Development and Engineering Office, where I have been for almost two years.


My teachers in high school were very positive influences on me, especially my math teachers. As a kid, I wanted to be a pilot. Planes and rockets fascinated me, which is why I went into mechanical engineering. I never really saw myself at NASA. After being a coop student here for two years, I became a full-time employee. One of my supervisors from the water group here at JSC was a big influence on where I am headed now, as far as my career goals. He helped me to get a clear focus. Along with encouragement, he also gave me lots of responsibility. Last but not least, my family is a huge influence, as they give me lots of encouragement and support.


To become an engineer, you really need to like math and science, but you must have good people and writing skills, too. If there's something you really want, you can do it. Find a positive role model and focus on that person to help you. If one school doesn't accept you, another one will. There are grants, scholarships, pell grants, loans and other ways to pay for school. Stay focused in school, regardless of what grade you are in. Set goals in small increments and give it time - nothing can stop you if you really want it. No one can take your education from you.

Personal Information

My parents divorced when I was eight years old. I lived with my mom, but had a close relationship with my dad, too, as he lived close by. Because of my asthma, I returned to Puerto Rico, living with my grandparents throughout my teenage years. My dad passed away when I was a freshman in college. My mom moved to Houston after I did. I have three half-sisters who live in New York City. They are all quite talented in different ways. I now live in Webster, Texas, with my wife Marilyn and two children. My little girl, Joselyn, loves to watch basketball with daddy. We are big fans of the Houston Rockets and the Houston Comets. My little boy, Brandon, loves Barney and the Sesame Street gang. We have a beagle named Sasha, who is two years old. My family enjoys going to the beach. We love Sea World. Pretty much, I like to do whatever my kids like to do.

Future Plans and Goals

I attend night school full-time and will graduate with my Master's Degree in Environmental Science in May from the University of Houston in Clear Lake. I would like to become a medical doctor someday; and hopefully, before the year 2000, I will be accepted to medical school. Regardless, I will work on my Ph.D., because I love going to school. When a semester ends, I am always anxious to start the next semester. If I can't go into the medical field, I'll do something in the field of environmental science, particularly in the area of public health. I am interested in studying the effects of environmental pollutants in humans.

Learn more from my chat
May 22, l998


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