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Anita AbregoMeet: Anita Abrego

Aerospace Engineer

What is your area of expertise?
Rotorcraft research and wind tunnel testing.

What do you do?
My current work activities consist of rotorcraft research and wind tunnel testing. Daily activities vary from test scheduling, pretest planning, safety analysis, model buildup, instrumentation checkout, analyzing data and writing research papers.

How did you first become interested in this profession?
Honestly, when I was ready to graduate from high school I didn’t really know what engineering was about. My high school counselor suggested I look into engineering and after browsing a book on careers in engineering, I went with it.

What helped prepare you for this job?
There are a variety of things that help with preparing for this type of work (and life in general). Playing in sports helped me learn to focus, be a team player, and develop confidence. Learning to play a musical instrument taught me to have patience and to appreciate others.

Counselors, mentors and summer internships helped with selecting the right classes. Technical writing and speaking classes helped me learn to become comfortable with speaking in front of groups. Internships helped with understanding the daily activities of engineering and guided me in choosing classes.

Who were your role models or inspirations?
My mom was my lifetime role model and inspiration. She taught me independence, personal strength, dealing with obstacles, perseverance and how to look at life from different angles. It was her believing in me, that taught me to believe in me.

What is your education and training?
BS Aeronautics and Astronautics (College of Engineering) - University of Washington
MS Aerospace Engineering, - University of Colorado

Describe your career path?
My career at NASA began the summer after my sophomore year at the University of Washington. I was an “Engineer in training”, assigned to a mentor in rotorcraft flight testing. Each summer throughout my undergraduate and graduate education, I returned to Ames and after graduate school was hired as an Aerospace Engineer in the Aeromechanics Branch. I have been at Ames for 8 years.

What do you like about your job?
I am allowed to work on exciting projects and explore new areas/interests. This job allows me the opportunity to work with a variety of engineers, scientists and on occasion I get to work with or meet NASA astronauts.

What don't you like about your job?
That is a tough question… I guess if I could, I would love to be outside more.

What is your advice to anyone interested in this occupation?
Take on this occupation because it is something you truly enjoy doing.

Engineering is more than calculations, it is the concepts behind the calculations.

Internships are key to understanding the real world of this career.

What kinds of skills are important to have for this position?
Outside of the technical skills associated with engineering, it is important for an individual to develop personal skills in communication and teamwork.

What are your interests outside of work?
I enjoy participating in a variety of sports activities, including softball, basketball, snow boarding and white water rafting. I attend various Native American events, including powwows. I like going to a variety of music and cultural festivals. My latest interest consists of volunteering as a dog socializer/trainer for the local Humane Society.

What is your favorite scientific fact or words of advice?
Reach for the stars, drag your feet in the treetops.



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