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Meet: Rebecca Averill

Research Engineer, Mechanical Systems,
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Who I Am
I am a research engineer in the Mechanical Systems branch at NASA Ames Research Center. In our branch, we help our customers (usually researchers) to turn their ideas into reality by designing the hardware they need to test their theories.

Often we must help our customers refine their requests by providing feedback and information to them about what can be acheived in "real life." For instance, an aerospace researcher may want to build a model with a very thin wing and test it under high lift loads. If the strongest material available is not strong enough, we help the researcher by letting him/her know how much thicker they will have to make the wing, or how much they will have to reduce the loads.

For the 5-percent TCA model, I help out by making sure that a model built by somone else will fit into our wind tunnel. I also review the model design and analysis. This model needed some new model support hardware (one of the struts which holds the model in place in the wind tunnel). I worked with a designer to draw it up, analyzed the strut, and had it built.

My Career Path
I began engineering school at age 31! I was intrigued by the possibilities in engineering, and I have always been a big fan of NASA. I began by taking classes in math and physics. I found that I loved learning about all the ways that the things around us work, and especially about how we can use this knowledge to solve real-world problems. All my friends in school told me I was crazy to think I could ever get a job at NASA, and I have been working here 10 years!

What I Like About My Job
My work is very varied, so I never get bored. Right now I work a lot in the models and wind tunnels area, but I have worked on space flight projects, plant growth chambers, airborne research, and many others.

I live in the Santa Cruz mountains with my husband and our big fluffy black dog, Jake. We have two grown daughters (ages 25 and 26) and a grand-daughter (age 4 1/2). I enjoy riding my bike, gardening, going on hikes, reading, and going camping.


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