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Meet Ralph Anderson

photo of Ralph Anderson

Flight Crew Equipment Manager
Johnson Space Center

The same side of the moon always faces the Earth all the time no matter where you are on the earth or at what time you look up. Do you know why? I do and can explain it to you.

Who I am and What I do

I am responsible for crewmember equipment, from food and clothing to the most complex communications and video equipment. I led the project team that developed the SAFER. Presently I serve on the Center Director's staff in the Systems Management Office as manager of the program improvements office.

I like the fact that there is no work like this anywhere else in the world -- this is what I like best about my work. What I like least is that so few understand or care about NASA or its missions.

The important skills I use, I began learning in junior high school -- a solid background in math and science. A strong engineering background is also needed.

Education and Career Path

I am a cum laude graduate of Alcorn State University, earning a bachelor of science degree in electronics in 1979. In college I worked as a physics lab assistant and in a satellite tracking station. These jobs were fun and the experience encouraged me to complete the educational process. In 1986, I earned my master of arts in business and public administration, from the University of Houston, which provided a well-rounded background for the managerial duties I've assumed.

I joined Lockheed Electronics, in Houston, as a project engineer. While there, I learned the flight hardware system and built several space shuttle instrumentation panels. These panels are now standard equipment on all space shuttle flights.

I joined NASA in 1980 as a quality engineer in the Safety Reliability and Quality Assurance Directorate. My first assignment there was division representative to the Tracking and Communications Division, responsible for ensuring design and manufacturing standards were met during flight hardware design and fabrication.

I held similar positions in the Man-Systems Division. In 1989, I moved to the Orbiter and Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) projects office as technical manager for the Flight Equipment processing contract. I later served as project manager for the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue project development team. I was named deputy manager to the Flight Crew Equipment Manager, and promoted to manager in 1997.

I most recently transferred to the Systems Management Office where I oversee technical, cost and schedule performance for large-scale station and shuttle projects.

Growing Up

I grew up in a small town in southern Mississippi, graduating from Franklin High School, home of the Fighting Bulldogs. I played tight end on an undefeated football team there. I also made all district in basketball.

The Apollo program was in full swing during my elementary school years. When I was sixth grade, we had a visit from a NASA educational outreach person to my school. From then on, I was interested in space, NASA and engineering.


I live in Pearland, Texas, and my wife's name is Donna. We have three children -- Rick, 20, is a sophomore at Baylor; Selena, 18, is a senior, and Kelly, 16, is a junior in high school.

As a family, we enjoy spending time together eating out, participating in sports activities, and going to professional college or high school sporting events. My personal interests are basketball, woodworking and teaching. I also enjoy playing softball, basketball and coaching girls AAU basketball.

My advice to students is to find a career that you truly enjoy and you will excel at it. There is nothing worse than getting up every day for a job that you don't like.

Future Plans and Goals

I plan to work on more advanced managerial assignments. Outside NASA, I teach college courses and will continue that.

View my archived National Engineers Week webcast :
February 27, 2002


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