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Meet: Leslie Ringo

a photo of leslie with two helicopters in the background

Flight Simulation Engineer, Vertical Motion Simulator
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

My Journals

Who I Am
The Vertical Motion Simulator at NASA Ames is the world's largest motion simulator. I am one of the engineers responsible for ensuring this simulator responds exactly as a real aircraft would in the air. Some of the simulations I have worked on include the Comanche helicopter, Space Shuttle, and future versions of fighter jet aircraft.

When I am assigned to a specific project I work on that project from three to six months prior to the simulation. When the simulation is actually running I will be located in the simulation laboratory. In the laboratory I work with other aeronautical engineers and pilots helping the research engineer to collect data that eventually may be used in future generations of aircraft or to improve existing technology in today's aircraft.

The type of work I do for a simulation varies for each phase of a simulation development period. First, I work with a mathematical representation of an aircraft. This "math model" first must be checked out to verify its accuracy. Once I know the aircraft "math model" is correct I work on integrating a cab to the "math model." The cab is where the pilots fly from. It contains a realistic out-the-window image, cockpit displays, and the controls that allow the pilot to fly the simulated aircraft. Once everything is integrated and all of the research engineer's requirements are met, the fun begins. It's time to fly!

My Career Journey
My career journey started at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, in obtaining my B.S. in aeronautical engineering. From my first day of college I was immediately learning about the aeronautical engineering world. As a result, I knew a little something about almost every branch of aeronautical engineering. These classes covered helicopters, rockets, space aircraft, commercial aircraft, military aircraft and enough "basics" to be able to design an aircraft from scratch. Having been exposed to such a large amount of information and possible future careers I knew I would enjoy anything as long as it was related to aeronautical engineering.

While working on my M.S. in mechanical engineering at U.C. Berkeley, I obtained a summer student job at the Vertical Motion Simulator at NASA Ames. I enjoyed the job and continued working part time until I finished my degree. At that point, I started working full time and have been here for over two years. This is a job that has utilized much of my undergraduate degree and a job that I have really enjoyed.

In high school I always preferred math and science over English and social studies. I was lucky to have teachers who noticed my likes and encouraged me to achieve more. My pre-calculus and calculus teacher, Mr. Trigs, and chemistry teacher, Mr. Nordell, were great teachers in making math and science interesting and fun. I decided something related to math and science was a future career I wanted to do for a living.

My other major influence was my family. I grew up in a Navy military family life. As a result, I was exposed to the aviation world at a young age. I also happened to live in San Diego where the Top Gun Naval Fighter Training School was located. I can still remember driving around and seeing jet fighters in the sky. Something "clicked" and I decided aeronautical engineering would be perfect for me.

Likes/Dislikes About Career
I love my job and the fact that I get to work on many different types of aircraft. What makes this job even better is having the opportunity to work with other individuals who also enjoy working with aircraft of all types. From one assignment to the next I never know what task or aircraft I will be assigned to, and this always keeps me looking forward to my next assignment. My one minor dislike is the fact that there are so many interesting projects to work on, yet there is only one of me to be assigned to a project. I love learning about everything and only wish there were a couple spares of myself to be able to work on more projects.

I was very quiet and shy as a kid, but I did not let this stop me from trying things. I ended up forcing myself into situations that got me involved in many activities. As a result, I had become editor-in-chief of my high school year book, a flag twirler in the marching band, and member of several clubs. In college I continued this same philosophy of just getting involved and continued to achieve in spite of my shyness and always being a quiet individual. I don't believe that you always have to speak up to be heard. I believe you always have the option of going in and doing a good job to get noticed.

Personal Information
I am your typical "military brat." I was born in London, England, and spent the next 15 years of my life moving from country to country. After that, it was college time and I gradually migrated from sunny San Diego to the Silicon Valley. Where I live now is very different from San Diego, but I enjoy the area and where I work.

Some of my favorite hobbies include roller blading, watching movies, and reading. I love to do tons of other things and it works out great living in this area. The opportunities are endless.

Learn More from My Chats


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