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Meet: Roxana M. Greenman,

a photo of Roxanna

Aerospace Engineer

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Who I Am
I am an Aerospace Engineer. I research the field of computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Computational fluid dynamics is the process of using computers to solve complex aerodynamic equations so that aircraft designs can be tested by examining the results and "flying the aircraft in the computer" can test aircraft designs. Some of the results that are available from CFD are pressure distribution, forces and moments, and magnitude and direction of the velocity of the air around the aircraft, among many others.

One of my current research areas is to develop new methods that incorporate information technology into CFD design methods. I am currently researching the benefits of integrating neural networks with optimizers. Neural networks are a collection (or network) of simple computational devices which are modeled after the architecture of biological nervous systems. They have the ability to accurately learn and predict nonlinear, multiple input and output relationships. Optimizers are computer programs that search the design space for maximums and minimums. I integrate all of the above computer software together so that they can communicate between each other. I then use the integrated system as a tool to design aircraft such as high-lift devices. High-lift devices are elements that are attached to the wing (forward and/or aft of the main wing) to help the aircraft fly better and safer during takeoff and landing. One important feature is that they increase the lift of the aircraft. The high-lift devices are stowed while the aircraft is cruising at a level flight.

Career Path
Ever since I can remember, I always enjoyed learning about physics, science, and mathematics. My interest in these fields led me to studying aeronautical and astronautical engineering. I received my bachelor's degree in 1992 and master's degree in 1994 from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly). I studied aeronautical engineering at Cal Poly. I really enjoyed taking the various engineering and mathematical courses too. Next, I attended Stanford University from 1994-1998 and received a doctorate degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 1998. My Ph.D. dissertation research was titled "Two-Dimensional High-Lift Aerodynamic Optimization Using Neural Networks."

At Cal Poly in 1992, I started working on the High-Alpha project. My position was sponsored by a NASA Ames Research Center grant. I was basically a student research scientist. I then was fortunate to work on a CO-OP (cooperative Agreement) with NASA Ames researching forebodies of aircraft in high angles of attack flow. Since 1993, I have been employed by NASA Ames and have worked on various research projects that have been very interesting. For instance, I used CFD solutions to investigate the effects of tangential slot blowing on a generic chinned forebody at high angles of attack. Tangential slot blowing was investigated as a means of generating side force and yawing moment on the forebody. I also demonstrated the use of a numerical optimization routine to understand the significance of changing different geometric parameters, for instance, wing platform, on the aerodynamic characteristics of a transonic wing. Recently, I have optimized the high-lift performance of a multi-element airfoil by using neural-net predictions that were trained using a computational data set.

I think my mom and dad have always encouraged me to work in something that would make me happy (and so far I have!). When I was young, I used to watch airplanes takeoff and land at the neighborhood airport. As I look back, I think this was a big influence on me. Also, I was influenced when I would see my dad creating mechanical parts for helicopters. I was also interested in space because once my parents took me to a planetarium to see the eclipse of the moon. I always was interested to know why airplanes flew and why the planets and moons existed/moved the way they did in space. Thus, I chose a career that would be interesting, intriguing, and would help answer some of the many questions that I had.

Positive and Negative Aspects of Career
There are many aspects of my career and job that I really enjoy. I will only list a few of the most important positive aspects. I like working for NASA because we are always investigating and inventing the new technology frontier. Further, I like to know that I am making a difference in the scientific community, and, with my work, I feel that I am contributing to improving science. I enjoy working in groups and brainstorming ideas with my colleagues. Another positive aspect is that in my work environment we're always using and trying state-of-the-art equipment and software.

There are not to many negative aspects about my work. I think that is because I really do enjoy it. One thing, however, is that I do wish I could work more in the outdoors. I miss walking and studying out in the sunshine like I did in college. But at least now when I leave work I have the whole afternoon to play and I don't have any homework nor do I need to study for an exam. Another negative aspect is that I work most of the day alone. Sometimes this seems to make the days go be slowly. But, at the same time, it is a positive aspect because I can work at my own pace and have the freedom to work as I please.

Preparation for Career
There are so many ways to prepare for a career in the aerospace industry. However, many of the same items that can be listed can also be used in other careers as well. Here are a few actions that I took which was helpful in preparing myself for this career. One, I read a lot of different types of books when I was growing up. I read mystery, science fiction, non-fiction, fiction, and fun books. Two, I always liked to try new things. Three, I constantly worked on a team, either in sports, musicals, plays, or just playing with friends. Another, important action that I took was volunteering to take a leadership role in many activities. Lastly, it is always important to be inquisitive.

If you are interesting in pursuing an engineer or research scientist career, I would suggest you visit different engineering sites to see what the work atmosphere is really like. Also, read a lot about the fields that you are interested in. Some great sources are books, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. I would also suggest you do well in school and study hard. It will be advantageous to have a strong foundation and good study habits before college.

Influential People
My parents were the two people that influenced me to study hard and achieve what I want in life. Also, I was very fortunate that my science and math teachers made learning the mathematical physics fun! Thus, I continued to search for knowledge and answers even after I was done with school.

Future Plans
I envision that I will continue researching in the technical fields of aerospace. I hope to continue exploring new frontiers in technology including artificial intelligence. I plan to be a mentor for students who are starting their careers as engineers or research scientists. I also plan to take leadership roles within research groups in the near future.

Personal Information
I have been married over four years to a wonderful man. We have two puppies that take up a lot of our time when we are home. We have a German Shepherd, Daisy, who is about 9 months old and a Rottweiler, Rocky, who is just over 8 weeks old! He is a handful all by himself.

Some of my interests are jet-skiing, hiking, reading, and playing at the beach! I also take Daisy for many long-walks near a lake. I enjoy playing and watching sports such as baseball, softball, football, and hockey.

My latest hobby is gardening. My favorite flowers are tulips and roses. I planted many of these and other types of flowers this past year and will plant many more in the future. I have many different colors of flowers growing in my garden. However, I despise weeding, but it does allow me to be outdoors.


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