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
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.
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