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Meet Heather Paul

photo of Heather Paul

Project Manager for Space Station EVA Tools
Johnson Space Center

Keep smiling. It makes people wonder what you've been up to.

Who I am and What I do

I work with a team of engineers to create and build some of the tools that the astronauts use when they're doing a space walk, or an EVA (Extravehicular Activity), as they build and maintain the International Space Station. My background is in mechanical engineering. As a project manager, I have to be a good leader, and guide my team of engineers through the design and certification process for the hardware. My job is extremely exciting, but also very time consuming.

I have always wanted to work for NASA, with the ultimate goal of being an astronaut!

Career Path

photo of Heather Paul in the NBL poolI attended Auburn University and obtained a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and a bachelor of arts in Spanish. (The Spanish degree was for fun - I just happen to love learning foreign languages!) I chose Auburn because of its cooperative education connection with NASA. Once I was in my sophomore year, I applied for a cooperative education student position at NASA JSC, and luckily I got it! So, I began alternating between school and work semesters. While co-oping, I worked in many areas at JSC, including Life Sciences, Propulsion, EVA Operations, and EVA Tools and Space Suits.

I continued my education at the University of Texas at Austin and received my master of science in mechanical engineering, while continuing to co-op at JSC. Once I graduated, I came to work full-time at JSC, and I've been here ever since.

My advice, for students pursuing careers in this area, is to stay in school and study hard! Don't get frustrated if you find a class or a subject that you don't like or don't understand. Stay focused and do your best. I was never very good at chemistry, and had to take classes in high school and college. Though it was hard, I got through and moved on to classes that I loved!

Growing Up

I grew up in Deer Park, a small town on Long Island in New York. I went to John F. Kennedy Elementary School, and attended seventh grade at Robert Frost Junior High School. I then moved to Atlanta, Georgia and attended Sutton Middle School for eighth grade. I went to North Atlanta High School, and majored in dance in the magnet for the performing arts.

Growing up, I liked to read many types of books, but I especially liked science fiction. I have always wanted to be an astronaut, although I also had interests in being a dancer.

My mother is my greatest role model. She is a strong, intelligent, independent woman who taught me to set my goals high and always believe in myself.

Personal

photo of Heather Paul with her dogI live in Houston, Texas. I have a dog, Molly. She is almost four years old and still has the energy of a puppy! She is a lot of fun, and loves to catch the Frisbee. My family enjoys traveling together. Unfortunately we are spread out across the country, so we don't often get to see each other at the same time. However, we try to take family vacations together when we can. I love to travel and SCUBA dive, and I am currently lead singer for a local band called The Banned.

 

Future Plans and Goals

I plan to continue working for NASA, and eventually I will pursue becoming an astronaut candidate. I am also considering continuing on for a Ph.D. in either mechanical or biomedical engineering.

 

photo of Heather Paul with NASA meatball

 

 

 
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