Meet: Steve Bauman
Mechanical Engineer, Lewis Research Center
Who I am
I am a mechanical engineer in the Engineering Design and Analysis Division
(EDAD) at the NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Being an
engineer means that I think of physical ways to do things, by designing
structures or mechanisms to accomplish special tasks, and then seeing
them through design, fabrication and installation. Being in EDAD, I
get to work on many different kinds of projects that are brought to
me from the other divisions of NASA.
Many of my jobs are related to the
facilities here at Lewis. Recently, I designed a microphone track for
a dome-shaped facility where jet engine nozzles are tested. The track
is 150 feet long, curves along the ceiling of the dome, and extends
to the floor. Mics are mounted to 23 individual carriages, and they
travel along the track on roller skate wheels much the way a roller
coaster moves. Previously, I had worked on a combustion experiment that
flew on the space shuttle two years ago. I was in charge of the chamber
in which the combustion occurred
Currently, I am trying to figure out
how to prevent the models that are mounted in our 8x6 wind tunnel from
bouncing around during a test. The 8x6 tunnel has an 8-foot tall by
6-foot wide test section where air is moved past a mounted model at
up to twice the speed of sound. To keep the model from bouncing, I am
trying to figure out how to make the mounting sting stiffer or how to
counteract the bouncing motion with some electronic devices. I am also
helping to design and build a new facility that will test jet engine
combustors, which is the part where the fuel is squirted in and ignited.
There are other rigs like it, but this one will be to used to develop
better laser diagnostic methods that measure how well the combustor
As a Child
When I was growing up, I was always fascinated by how things work. After
things around the house broke, I would take them apart, try to figure
out how they were supposed to work, and try to fix them. I even use
to gather interesting appliances from our neighbor's garbage, and sometimes
I was able to fix them, also! I was always asking my father, also an
engineer, how things worked. I would try to make things in my father's
basement workshop, mostly out of wood, like toy boats or rubber band
guns. As I grew, I learned to plan and draw what I wanted first so they
would come out better.
I was also fascinated by the space
program. Back then, NASA was working on sending men to the moon. I remember
reading everything I could about rockets, building and playing with
models of the Saturn V and the lunar lander, and watching the first
moon walk on TV. I also loved airplanes, especially since my dad use
to take me flying in small airplanes that he would rent. Later, I got
my pilot's license also.
I always had a talent and interest in math and science. None of my grades
were very good until I got to high school when I started finding everything
more interesting and important. I then went to Case Western Reserve
University where I got my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. I later got
an MBA from Cleveland State University. I learned in college, and later
as an engineer, that English (being able to write and to speak) was
just as important as all the other courses.
My first job out of Case was to work for White Motor Corporation - they
made full-size trucks. I lost this job when the economy got bad, and
I couldn't find another job, so I went to Cleveland State and earned
my MBA. After I graduating, I got a job at Little Tikes Toy Company.
I learned a lot about plastic parts design. I later worked for the Kirby
Vacuum Cleaner Company where I designed self-propelled concepts of their
next product. Finally, I went to work for NASA where I have been for
11 years now. It is the best job I have ever had.
Likes/Dislikes about career
The best thing is that I get to do what I love to do best, design things.
Everyday is a little different. Sometimes I'm trying to figure out how
to do something, while at other times, I'm helping to put something
that I designed together and to make it work. I constantly get to learn
new things and to tackle new challenges.
I also like that my working hours
are very consistent so I can go home after work to spend time with my
family and do my hobbies. Not all jobs are like this. The only bad things
about my job is probably the same with most any job, that sometimes
you have to do tasks, like certain kinds of paperwork, that aren't much
Working hard in school really pays off in the long run. If I had worked
harder in school when I was really young, high school, and especially
college, would have been easier. Also, developing good social skills
is vital. I was shy in high school, but I was still in choir and stage
crafters, which helped. But at Case, I was in a fraternity, and this
was a huge help to developing as a person. Fraternities and sororities
have gotten bad reputations lately, but are usually wonderful support
groups that can really help students to become better students and more
I also learned the importance of saving
my money and living well within my income. This allowed me to survive
those times when I had no job and to get my MBA.
My number one priority right now is my children. I want to show them
as much of what life has to offer as I can, and to give them every chance
to grow and learn. My wife and I are saving money for all of them for
the future college expenses. We are also saving money for ourselves
as a safety net and for retirement someday. I may change jobs someday
and do something different here at Lewis. This is one of the great things
about working at a big center like this. And being an engineer, I'm
qualified to do many different kinds of jobs.
Besides having a terrific career, I love to spend time at home. I have
three kids, Sarah, 12, Craig, 9, and Lauren, 6. My wife and I spend
nearly all our time with them, doing homework and having fun. We also
have a very friendly dog named Shasta, who never leaves her yard and
rarely barks, and a very cuddly cat named Sidney. We live in a rural
area with plenty of space to play. I have a big shop building, separate
from the rest of the house and the garage, where I can still make things
and fix things. My biggest projects have related to our house. I finished
our basement, complete with a whirlpool bathtub and kitchenette. I also
converted our original garage into a huge new living room and added
a new garage out front. I built a deck off the back of the house and
a separate deck and playhouse for the kids. I made a small Ferris wheel
for the kids for Christmas several years ago, and I plan to make an
electric car for them to ride around our yard very soon. I also hope
to build an airplane someday.
We also have a vacation home on Sandusky
Bay, a doublewide mobile home. It includes a dock where we keep our
21-foot cabin cruiser. We swim and fish most weekends of the summer,
and, sometimes, we visit the Lake Erie Islands and sleep on the boat.
For next summer, we've bought season tickets to the Cedar Point Amusement
I'm glad everyday for having a fun,
well-paying career that allows me to do so many other things.
Archived QuestChats with Steve