The U.S. Treasury has always been a place where people could find something green, but this time the term is not referring to money. The U.S. Treasury building has obtained a green environmental designation, probably the oldest federal building to earn one. It has reduced its operating costs by $3.5 million annually as a result.

If the Treasury, built first in 1836, can go green and utilize smarter systems management, then most of the rest of government should be relatively easy, according to experts in the field. All it takes is a little ingenuity, a great deal of effort and a desire. And a presidential executive order helps too. Keep reading →

I grew up in a conservative Midwestern home that valued hard work and diligence. I was extremely lucky to have the influence of three strong women in my life – my mother, my grandmother and my great aunt. They raised me to truly believe I could do anything – whether it was sports, algebra or even being one of the few women, at the time, to enroll and graduate from engineering school. For them gender was never a consideration. You were simply supposed to work hard to achieve your goal.

In my home, there was never a question of whether I would go to college, but rather what would I study and where. Our family placed a very high value on education and the opportunities it enabled. Going to school was my ‘job’ and I was expected to do well at it.
Because I was good at math and the sciences, I was encouraged to try medicine or engineering. But I loved science fiction, and it was the idea of designing spacecraft for long-duration exploration that intrigued me. I set my sight on the “Mecca” of human spaceflight: NASA.

I had no idea attending Purdue University in Indiana, with its longtime history with NASA and Johnson Space Center, positioned me well. Purdue was prime recruiting territory for fledgling aerospace engineers. But to me, Purdue was just two hours from home and the state school for engineers – kids who wanted to be doctors went to Indiana University.

I took my job as a co-operative education student at Johnson Space Center not knowing much about the day-to-day work of an engineer. My education began immediately. Immersed with a group of “old” Apollo engineers, their experience and my youthful exuberance made for interesting, energetic and always educational interactions. They fueled my self-confidence and taught me the ropes of decision making when lives, and professional reputations, are at stake.
I used these skills to support all the human spaceflight programs, including the space shuttle orbiter, the International Space Station, the X-38 vehicle and now the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Program.

I joined NASA in the shadow of the 1985 space shuttle Challenger tragedy. I saw firsthand the dedication people felt to resolve what went wrong that day and to make sure it never happened again. From that point forward, the passion for what NASA strives to achieve_engineering excellence and integrity _ became the touchstone for everything I have done. I know these life lessons aren’t unique to NASA. But the ability to take these values, add a focus on teamwork and persistence, and you can see why NASA truly excels and continues to draw some of the best and brightest young people into the adventure of human spaceflight.

I relived those hard lessons in 2003 when space shuttle Columbia experienced a thermo structural failure during re-entry. This time it was even more personal to me. I had spent 15 years working on the space shuttle, and I was now in a position to provide leadership. Everything my Apollo colleagues had taught me, everything I had learned through diverse co-op tours, everything I had learned in graduate school came into play. It was as if I’d spent 15 years gathering the skills needed to contribute to the Columbia accident investigation. It shows you never know how your life experiences will work together to enable your opportunities in the future.

After the Columbia accident, I took a hiatus to have my daughter. She is now 8, and I confess that I still have difficulty striking a balance between work and home. It’s a constant struggle, but totally worth it. I wouldn’t want to have had to choose between my family and my career. I’ve been at NASA for 25 years. My career is a big part of my life…an important part of who I am.

When I returned to NASA, I joined the NASA Engineering and Center and then took my current job as Orion chief engineer. As chief engineer, I am amazed every day at the depth of technical talent in this agency and the contractor family. I’m also amazed at how much these folks need and value leadership. Leaders that can communicate, advocate and make clear decisions are worth their weight in gold. I find now I spend most of my career trying to learn to be a better leader – we have all kinds of folks who are there to provide the best technical options – so my job is to knock down barriers, help them prioritize, allow them to move forward. That’s a totally different skill, but equally important to our success as an agency and a nation.

As a senior in high school, I took a physics class. I loved the challenge of figuring things out, and I loved how math could be used to predict where a ball would land as it rolled off of a table. My teacher was amazing and helped keep my interest by making the subject so fascinating. But, I also loved playing the piano and was considering becoming a concert pianist. After much soul searching, I decided to have piano as my creative outlet and pursue physics for my career. I definitely made the right choice! I went to college and majored in physics. I then went on to get my Master’s degree in Physics and Ph.D in Electrical Engineering. Today, I work as an engineer at NASA Glenn Research Center in the Space Flight Systems Directorate, where I am a project manager for Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP). I love working at NASA.

In the 21 years I have been with NASA, I not only fulfilled that ambition but also contributed significantly to the future of aeronautics and space exploration. I also believe I helped inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists. The whole environment at NASA has pushed me toward my goals. Everyone is so intellectual, innovative, and helpful. There are so many opportunities, and people I work with every day inspire me and push me to try new things and ideas. Keep reading →

I grew up in a large family, the middle child of seven children. My parents and grandparents were never remiss in reminding me of the importance of trusting God in all areas of my life and the significance of the opportunity to learn from every individual I would encounter. When I look back on my life, I consider my greatest accomplishment as completing my Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering after losing my mother to breast cancer during my freshman year of college. My mother was my cheerleader in life, the person who had the greatest influence on me. So the hardest thing for me was having the courage to continue with a dream that was born out of her hopes and vision for me.

As a young girl growing up in Houston, my parents exposed me to many different things. I loved the arts, and at a very early age I had a tremendous appreciation for theater, dance, and music. My love for reading and writing poetry and short stories stirred the creative side of my brain. There was a balance as well. I was very focused on academics and always wanted to be the perfect straight-A student. Early in life my parents taught me to study hard, make good grades, and always do my best. I was probably my worst critic when it came to my schoolwork because for me, failure was not an option! Keep reading →

The Centers for Disease Control has spearheaded a program available to other agencies that automatically updates website content, making it easier and more cost-effective to keep information current.

The content syndication tool eliminates the cumbersome and time-consuming practice of emailing updates and changing website content manually. Keep reading →

While President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner continue to push ahead with negotiations over federal revenues and spending, federal workers have also been offering up ideas to curb government spending.

And the ideas of four federal employees are up for a public vote this week, the White House announced today. (The public has until noon, Dec. 21, to vote.) Keep reading →

I am an American Muslim NASA employee who grew up in a suburb of Cairo, Egypt. I have always strived to live by three simple principles: Please God and you will please all. Education is the key to opportunity. Serve others with compassion and kindness.

If one thinks about these principles, it is very simple. You have general guidance about values and ethics from God and his books, self-determination by education, and a sense of social responsibility. Keep reading →

Initially, when I started working for NASA, I can’t say that there was something that inspired me. I longed to return to my career field of procurement, and an opportunity became available at NASA. The inspiration came later, as I became more involved with the programs and projects I supported.

I began my career at NASA in 1998. While preparing to move to California, I applied for a contract specialist position at NASA Ames Research Center. Initially, there were conversations with Human Resources and Procurement management. However, many months went by without any contact. By this time, I assumed the job had been filled and applied for a job with the Department of Education in San Francisco. One day, I received a call from Ames’ Human Resources inquiring if I was still interested in a position with NASA. I was quite surprised to receive the telephone call, but very happy. They explained that shortly after our last conversation, a hiring freeze had been invoked. I expressed my continued interest, as I enjoyed procurement work and was eager to return to it. Within a month, I was hired as a contract specialist at Ames. I could not have been more thrilled. Shortly after, I resumed my role as a contracting officer in the Acquisition Division. I later served as the Acting Branch Chief for Business and Operations, and occasionally as the Acting Deputy Division Chief for Acquisition. Keep reading →

Although I wasn’t sure just what type of engineer I wanted to be, at an early age I knew that I wanted to be one when I grew up. It has always fascinated me to figure out how things worked, what contributed to making them work, and why things function the way that they do. My interest in engineering stemmed from attending enrichment programs within my county during the summers while I was in fourth to eighth grades. Through participation in these programs, I was able to start honing my math, science, English, foreign language, sports and technology skills at an earlier age than most of my counterparts. Of all these activities, my interest and curiosity was always peaked within the technology field. I quickly excelled in this field and it became my favorite because it challenged me to think outside of the box, provided me firsthand experience with developing and creating projects, and introduced me to problem solving. It’s amazing, but I can still remember to this very day working on my first project – building a model rocket. Although it didn’t launch just right, I remember being proud when it ignited and took off from the ground. From that point on, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related activities and projects became a priority in my life, and I set a personal goal to become an engineer. My goal was achieved when I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) in May 2003. Today, I am an Aerospace Quality Engineer within the Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) Directorate at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

Aside from becoming a part of the NASA family in July 2004, one of the proudest moments of my life came upon graduating from FAMU. When I graduated, I became the fourth generation within my family to complete studies at FAMU. In addition, my graduation marked another important achievement: I became the first female engineer within my family’s history. My family has continually strived and believed in educational excellence, but in over 50 years and through the many generations that preceded me, I was the first female engineer! Not only had I fulfilled my goal of becoming an engineer, I set a new record as well! I was ecstatic! Prior to my obtaining my engineering degree, it seemed as though engineering was a man’s field within my family. It felt great to break this perception and accomplish something that no other woman in my family had. While I was growing up, my family members tried to persuade me to pursue nursing, education (teaching), or business administration, but none of them appealed to me. This moment is one of the most fulfilling in my life because it was something that I earned on my own. No one gave it to me. I had to work hard and persevere to obtain it. It was also a moment that I could give testament to those that said that “I would not amount to anything” because I was raised in an “unbalanced” family that I could do anything that I put my mind and effort to. Keep reading →

My father served in the Marine Corps, so we moved a lot during my childhood. Making friends and just fitting in were huge challenges because of my family’s transient lifestyle. I found solace in my schoolwork and excelled in math and science but never thought about working for NASA.

In the 1970’s, girls were encouraged to get married or pursue a career as a nurse or a teacher. My parents did not graduate from high school, so they were unable to provide career advice, and I wanted to go to college. I earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education but decided teaching was not the career for me.

I then decided to apply to a graduate school program in organizational behavior, but was rejected. This was a major disappointment as I did well in my behavioral classes and was even friends with the professor who had encouraged me to apply for graduate school. I was then encouraged to apply to the Masters of Business Administration program, but was rejected again, leaving me with a near zero self image. I was totally lost and unsure of what to do next.
I spoke to another graduate school official who recommended the Masters of Public Administration program, and figuring I had nothing to lose, I applied. Fortunately, I was accepted and later realized the MPA program was right for me.

In the last year of graduate school, I was selected for the Presidential Management Intern Program, a two-year internship with the federal government. I received interview requests from various agencies but was surprised when NASA called, since I was neither an engineer nor a scientist. They explained that NASA required all types of skills. I was honored and excited at this possibility.

I chose NASA and was assigned to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer at NASA Headquarters. I began in June, which is the peak of the budget process for the agency. My initial assignments were making copies, collating presentations and sitting through seemingly endless budget meetings.

My major responsibility was to coordinate the updating of the Chief Financial Officer’s budget book. The task was challenging since some of the analysts did not like to be reminded of the due dates! One analyst did not give me his budget book pages, and I was afraid to tell the boss that the book was not completed on time. My poor judgment resulted in him carefully explaining to me the importance of meeting deadlines. He explained that the due date was part of a larger integration process, and that even if the product is incomplete it should always be submitted on time with as much information as possible. I have always remembered this cardinal rule, and have taught this to the analysts I have trained.

After I completed my internship, I became a resource analyst in the International Space Station Freedom program office where I was responsible for specific Center budgets. I thoroughly enjoyed my job as I learned so much from working with the engineers. I gained knowledge of the engineering development cycle, participated in the formulation of an integrated master schedule and learned about the program office portion budget process.

When the space station office moved, I made a major career change by transferring to the Stennis Space Center to become their Resources Management Officer. Though I was only there for 18 months, I thoroughly enjoyed working with the employees and learning about the operations at a NASA center.

In 1993, I moved to the Dryden Flight Research Center to become its Chief Financial Officer. Since the office had just been created, I wrote position descriptions, hired my management team, developed processes and worked to form a cohesive team. These were challenging but rewarding times, and I was fortunate to work with very talented employees.

Since 2001, I have served as Dryden’s Associate Director for Management, recently renamed Director for Mission Support, responsible for mission support offices such as acquisition, finance, facilities, protective services and strategic communications, ensuring that these offices provide efficient and effective support for the programs. The most satisfying part of my job is solving problems and providing needed support to accomplish the center’s mission. My proudest achievement was establishing the mission support offices as a cohesive leadership team rather than a group of individual offices.

After working 28 years at NASA, I have learned some important life lessons, such as not giving up after experiencing failure and maintaining resilience. I found the courage to speak up, and asked questions or made statements that everyone else was thinking yet reluctant to share. I have strived to always do my best since my work is a reflection of not only myself but also of my organization. Most importantly, I have learned that as a team we can handle any challenge if we work together, which has given me the confidence that we as an agency will figure out what the next step in human spaceflight will be.

I have been lucky to work at NASA and have seen some pretty cool airplanes too, such as an SR-71 flyby while standing by the runway. I have also witnessed the record Mach 7 flight of the X-43 that made the Guinness Book of Records, and watched four space shuttle launches, two landings and the takeoff of the 747 shuttle carrier aircraft three times with space shuttles mounted atop. In May 2010, I saw the successful launch abort test of the Orion crew capsule. Recently, I observed the first open door flight of the SOFIA 747 aircraft and in my time at Dryden I have been fortunate to see numerous airplane flyovers – opportunities I could never have foreseen when I started with NASA.

For the next generation, I want young girls to know that there is a myriad of career opportunities available. I especially like to talk to children of color so they can see someone like themselves working for NASA, something I never experienced when I was growing up. I enjoy sharing my life story in hope that it shows the importance of an education as well as seizing upon life’s opportunities and persevering when disappointments happen.

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