[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 3
- 09:40:56 ]
Hello to our early arriving chat participants. Today's chat with Donald
James from NASA Ames Research Center will begin in approximately 20 minutes.
Be sure you have read Donald's profile at http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats/special/mlk00/bios/james.html
to prepare your questions.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 4 - 09:41:20
Today's chat will be MODERATED to help Donald keep up with our questions.
This means only a few questions will be posted in the chat room at a time.
DON'T WORRY if you don't see your questions on your screen immediately.
We will post new questions for Donald every few minutes.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 5 - 09:41:43
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[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 6 - 10:00:12
Hello and welcome to today's Black History Month chat with Donald James
from NASA Ames Research Center!
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 7 - 10:00:23
Donald James oversees the various people and project operations within
the Education Branch. He also guides the branch in meeting NASA's goals
for educational outreach.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 8 - 10:00:41
And now, here is Donald James to answer your questions.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 11 - 10:01:16
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] And now, here is Donald James
to answer your questions.
Hi Oran - I am glad to be here!
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 12 - 10:02:14
RE: [Brian] I read that you traveled
to other countries as a kid. What was that like?
Hi Brian - I really liked travelling to many countries. It helped appreciate
other cultures and people different from me and it helped me appreciate
my own country much better.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 13 - 10:03:32
RE: [Terri] Did you ever want to
be an astronaut?
Hi Terri - I never wanted to be an Astronaut - I did want to be a pilot.
However, now that I know how great it would be to go in space I would
first in line!
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 16 - 10:06:38
RE: [David/Norton] What is a typical
day like for you at work?
I try to go to the gym early in the morning. I get to my desk around 8
or 8:30am. I read my e-mails (I get LOTS of e-mails!), talk to people
who work with me, and usually I have several meetings to go to. I leave
around 5 or 5:30pm. Everyday is different and that's one of the reasons
I like my job.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 18 - 10:09:06
RE: [Stacy] Donald, how does it feel
to work at NASA?
Well Stacey - I never thought I would work for NASA, in fact as you can
see from education background my interests were in international affairs.
I had a chance to work for NASA after graduate school and thought "hey,
why not?" After 3 or 4 years I quickly learned how much I love the work
that NASA does. There are very smart people who work here, and the things
NASA is working on now will become common knowledge and a part of your
life several years from now. I still think NASA is a very cool place to
work and I have been here 18 years!
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 21 - 10:11:00
RE: [Stacy] What other kinds of work
would you like to do if you weren't at NASA?
that's a good question - since I like to travel I suppose I would have
a job that allowed me to travel. Right now my main commitment is to my
wife and two kids so that's where I spend most of my non-work time. I
also like to read a lot so maybe I'd hang out in libraries :)
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 22 - 10:12:46
RE: [David/Norton] What is the best
part of your job?
The best part of my job is first the great people I work with. Being around
some of the smartest people in the world means I get to learn new things
all the time. The second best thing is that I DO work for NASA and NASA
has good "name" recognition. I haven't been to too many places where people
didn't know about NASA and that feels great.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 26 - 10:15:19
RE: [Stacy] What do your kids think
about you working at NASA? Do they want or do you want them to do what
My kids like it that I work at NASA. They always want to come to work
with me and when I get a chance to work away from Ames, like doing a demonstration
at an exhibit booth, they really like to help me. My son Brandon can't
understand though why he can't go to Space Camp right now. He's only seven
and you have to be older.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 27 - 10:16:22
Welcome to those of you just arriving for our chat with Donald James.
Please send your questions in, and we will post then in the chat room
as soon as we can.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 28 - 10:18:20
RE: [Charles] Have you met any astronauts?
Are there any Black astronauts now?
I have met several Astronauts. There are some Black Astronauts and some
new ones who haven't flown yet. I had the chance to meet Guy Bluford,
America's first Black Astronaut (that went into space), and I did a school
presentation with Fred Gregory who still works for NASA now. I also had
a chance to meet Mae Jemison, the first Black female Astronaut when she
came to Ames. I believe there are two black female astronauts in training
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 29 - 10:20:24
RE: [DonaldJames/ARC] I have met several Astronauts.
There are some Black Astronauts and some new ones who haven't flown yet.
I had the chance to meet Guy Bluford, America's first Black Astronaut
(that went into space), and I did a school presentation with Fred Gregory
who still works for NASA now. I also had a chance to meet Mae Jemison,
the first Black female Astronaut when she came to Ames. I believe there
are two black female astronauts in training now.
Charles, you can view many of our past, present and future astronauts
on our Black History Month chat page, at http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats/special/mlk00. Click
on "African American Astronauts" on that page.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 31 - 10:23:16
RE: [David/Norton] Donald, how does
your master's degree in International Development and Public Administration
help you in your work?
that's a good question David. Since much of what I do on a day-to-day
basis is manage programs and people, my early school training prepared
me for knowing that to get certain things done you have to understand
people, money, resources, timing, customers, and a lot of details that
you might not think is important. I also learned in International Development
that certain economic principles that apply to developing countries also
apply to parts of this country. For example many aspects of economic life
in West Virginia, Mississippi, parts of California where I am from are
similar to the economic situations I studied in college and graduate school.
This allowed me to appreciate the challenges of, for example, bringing
the Internet into poor communities, or changing a states' economy from,
say coal, to high tech. These problems have been studied around the world.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 33 - 10:26:30
RE: [Sam/Beloit] How did you become
branch chief? Do you need to know science or math for your job?
I became branch chief last year. I feel as though I have been preparing
for this job for most of my NASA career. I did a lot of training and took
assignments to help me better understand NASA's mission and NASA's Education
mission. I have to know some math and science to do my job - mainly enough
to know what the researchers are talking about so I can help communicate
that knowledge to my customers (teachers and students)
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 35 - 10:27:11
RE: [Charles] How many people do
I have 13 direct reports and approx. 35 contractors that work in my branch.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 36 - 10:28:19
RE: [Stacy] What kinds of books do
you like to read? Where are some of the places you would like to travel?
I like to read non-fiction books. Right now I am reading a book by Lawrence
Otis Graham called Our Kind of People. It is about America's "Black
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 37 - 10:30:30
RE: [DonaldJames/ARC] I like to read non-fiction books.
Right now I am reading a book by Lawrence Otis Graham called Our Kind
of People It is about America's "Black Elite."
Donald, I've also heard about that book, and plan to read it (soon, I
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 40 - 10:31:41
RE: [Sam/Beloit] Mr. James, what
was it like for your growing up in Stockton?
My family moved away when I was 5 so I don't remember too much. I mainly
remember growing up in Sacramento. I always loved coming home to Sacramento
after going overseas. Most of my childhood friends I knew in Sacramento.
Sacramento is also where I was exposed to many black men who were real
role models for me.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 41 - 10:34:05
RE: [Sam/Beloit] Since your family
is in different places in the country, how often do you see each other?
My mom is in Sacramento and I see her about once a month. My dad is in
Maryland I see him usually when I have a business trip to Washington,
DC, which isn't often so I call him at least once a week and exchange
e-mails with him. My sister lives in Oakland with her husband I see her
about once a month, and my brother who flies I see about once every two
months. We try to get together for holidays.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 45 - 10:36:39
RE: [Brian] As a kid, did you ever
get discouraged or have difficulty reaching your dreams?
Good question - I was discouraged when I realized I would not fulfill
my dreams to fly planes. I think it had to do with the difference between
what I had an "interest" in vs. what I was good at. the neat thing is
that when I told my dad my dilemma he was very supportive and told me
he thought this would happen but I had to discover it on my own. Funny
- now that I am with NASA I get to be around cool planes and spacecraft
and new technology all the time -so it all worked out.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 46 - 10:38:35
RE: [Sandy] Were you ever discriminated
against because of your race?
I don't think I was ever denied a job, promotion or anything like that
because I am black. Obviously I have suffered racist reactions and comments
and other behaviors that are hurtful tome. This is a common experience
with black people. As much as I try to ignore those rare incidences and
move on it still hurts.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 47 - 10:39:01
RE: [Brian] What kinds of sports
did you like to play as a kid?
tennis, basketball and football
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 51 - 10:42:06
RE: [Charles] Did your father and
mother influence your career developement ?
very much so - both had advanced degrees and went to prestigious schools
- my mom went to Spelman in Atlanta and my dad went to Yale Law School
in Connecticut. Though they never tried to influence a particular course
of study, they did insist that whatever we chose we should strive for
excellence. (I think my dad wanted me to go to Law School, but since two
of my younger siblings did he felt better :)
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 52 - 10:44:59
RE: [Sandy] Are NASA and the astronauts
the same in real life like they are on tv?
hmmm... I haven't seen too many Astronauts on TV (we don't have TV in
our house) - I can say that they are like many professionals you meet
everywhere. Most are fun to be around and most really like to talk about
what it's like to be in space or to be training for a mission. I would
say most Astronauts have a very kid-like quality about them. They want
to know about everything and ask lots of questions - Astronauts are also
not afraid to admit when they don't know something - a good quality!
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 53 - 10:45:42
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[ DonaldJames/ARC - 54 - 10:47:12
RE: [Stacy] Where are some of the
places you would like to travel?
I have never been to South America, China or Russia or Australia so I
would like to go to those places. I also haven't traveled to many places
in the USA and very much want to do more right here. Recently for example,
I had the privilege of traveling to an Indian Reservation in Mississippi.
That was a real learning experience for me.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 56 - 10:49:22
RE: [Jason] If you could go back
and do something differently, what would you do?
I like this question - I would enjoy the moment more; I would say thank
you more. I would ask many more questions of my teachers and parents and
friends. I would study architecture and design buildings and cities. I
would read more.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 59 - 10:50:49
RE: [Judy] Of all the places you've
visited, which is your favorite?
I think I liked Kenya the best. I was in 9th grade there. and visited
some of the most beautiful game parks and beaches in the world. I want
to take my children there some day.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 61 - 10:54:00
RE: [Brian] You said you get to be
around a lot of cool planes and space craft. Have you ever flown or been
in any of them, like to space shuttle?
We have a space shuttle simulator here that all the Astronauts come and
use to practice special challenges in landing the space shuttle. The simulator
is the only one of its kind in the world - giving the Astronauts the feeling
like they're really flying the real thing. I got to fly the simulator
and that was - WOW!! I got to land the Shuttle at Edwards AFB and at the
Kennedy Space Center. I didn't crash or skid off the runway. The best
moment came when the Astronaut flying with me said - "you're pretty good
at this." That made my day.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 64 - 10:56:30
RE: [Charles] What was the most exciting
or scary experience you have ever had in your travels?
Our family was on safari in Tanzania which is south of Kenya and we were
visiting Ngorongoro crater - a crater that can easily be seen from space
because it is 17 miles across. AS we were descending into the crater floor
on a narrow rocky road with no barriers on the "down" side the axle broke
on our Land Rover and it skidded about 25 feet before stopping. The car
was loaded with people and supplies and we could have gone over the edge.
That was scary!
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 66 - 10:57:58
RE: [Jason] Since we had some problems
with the Mars missions, do you think we will ever get the chance to go?
absolutely!! It is from the problems that we'll learn how to do it - just
hope we as a country don't chicken out and decide not to try. Not trying
is worse than failing in my book.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 69 - 10:59:08
RE: [Sandy] Do you remember the Apollo
I know exactly where I was when Armstrong set foot on the moon. I think
I was more amazed that we were watching it live on TV!! I remember going
outdoors all the time to look at the moon and saying - this is happening
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 70 - 11:01:12
RE: [Eric] What has been the most
memorable thing you've done or been part of while you've worked at NASA?
What's been the least memorable?
unfortunately the most memorable was the Challenger accident. That changed
NASA forever. It was emotional for me because I, like many of my NASA
colleagues who were here during Challenger, took the loss personally.
I hope that never happens again - but unfortunately one day it will.
[ DonaldJames/ARC - 71 - 11:03:56
RE: [Stacy] What are some of your
Great question - I would like to be at NASA long enough to see a human
set foot on Mars and returned safely. I want to be a part of the effort
and do my part to prepare today's students for the challenges of going
to Mars. I want to know that when we do go to Mars that the person who
first sets foot there perhaps was a student moved by one of the many great
education programs NASA has to offer and decided to be a space explorer.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 72 - 11:04:16
This concludes today's Black History Month chat with Donald James from
NASA Ames Research Center. We would like to thank our chatters for joining
us today, and offer our thanks and appreciation to Donald for sharing
his time with us and his thoughtful responses to our questions. THANK
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 73 - 11:04:32
As a final reminder, visit our NASA QuestChat Information Center at http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats
to send your comments about today's chat to us.
[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 75 - 11:07:56
This concludes NASA Quest's special series of Black History Month chats
for this year. We hope you enjoyed this year's series, and look forward
to hearing from you online in the near future. Thank you for your participation,
and have a good day.