Meet a NASA Glenn Employee: Rachel Maynard
Thousands of talented, dedicated and passionate people work at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. They are rocket scientists and engineers. They are researchers and physicists and chemists. They are aviation specialists, public affairs officers, administrative assistants, security officers, logistics managers and more. With countless specializations in myriad fields, the people of Glenn share one goal: working for the public in support of NASA's mission.
The diverse Glenn workforce is comprised of civil servants and on-site support contractors. Workers perform a large variety of different jobs at NASA Glenn. "My Job at NASA Glenn" is a series that introduces some of these workers. Learn about different employees and the interesting jobs they perform, and how their education prepared them to make unique and important contributions to NASA.
Mechanical Engineer at Plum Brook Station’s Spacecraft Propulsion Research Facility (B-2).
What that means:
I work with a team of engineers and technicians to maintain and improve mechanical equipment at the B-2 facility. B-2 was built as the world's only facility capable of testing the whole mission profile of a full-scale upper-stage launch vehicle.
What I do:
I manage the infrastructure and maintenance projects for every day operations and help in preparing the facility for customer testing. B-2 is currently being refurbished so we can improve our capabilities for future tests. Some of the things I take care of include the lifting equipment, lighting, HVAC, and security systems. I have also served as a test conductor for the facility. That means making sure all the facility's systems are running properly and that we are meeting the customer's requirements so they can get meaningful results from testing their hardware in simulated flight conditions.
The coolest /most interesting part of my job is:
Getting to work at such a unique test facility along with other engineers and technicians. Being a part of the B-2 facility's refurbishment has been really exciting and I'm looking forward to getting to work with more test customers who want to take advantage of B-2's current and future capabilities.
My favorite project that I have worked, or that I am working on, is:
I am currently serving as test project lead for the Super-TIGER balloon payload. The Super-TIGER instrument will be flying over Antarctica and is designed to test and classify an emerging model of cosmic-ray origins. The B-2 facility will simulate the altitude and the thermal conditions it will encounter during its flight. I get to develop a test plan to simulate the required pressure and temperature extremes to help verify the instrument will operate properly during its actual flight.
The accomplishment that I am most proud of is:
I am most proud of being a test conductor for two successful balloon payload tests within the past year. The B-2 team met the testing requirements and helped the customers find problems with their test articles that would have greatly impaired their operability had they not been discovered.
A Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education helped me by:
A STEM education has given me the foundation for understanding how the B-2 facility operates, as well as providing valuable experience working with a team. Since I frequently interact with other engineers and technicians, I am able to clearly communicate what needs to be accomplished in technical terms and work along with them to meet our goals.
Good advice for students, including STEM students, is:
Find something you are passionate about and pursue it. Studying will be a lot easier and more rewarding if you actually like what you are learning about so explore as much as possible in each subject. Then you can make a better decision on what you'd like to pursue in the future. Also, try to participate in an internship or co-op program so you can see for yourself if you really enjoy a certain career path or not.
How do you "dream big?"
I "dream big" by having high expectations of myself and always trying to reach bigger goals in my life and career. I don't settle for what I currently have since there are always improvements that can be made.
Who inspired you to "dream big" and how or what did they do that inspired you?
My parents had a huge role in inspiring me to "dream big" because they always encouraged me to reach my potential and learn as much as possible.
What do you do to inspire others to "dream big?"
Working at NASA makes it very easy to inspire others to "dream big" because we have such lofty goals. I always try to participate in educational outreach events and volunteering to give tours to student groups so future generations can learn about the amazing work we do. Sharing the positive work experiences I've had with them hopefully lets them see how important it is to always do their best to reach their goals.
Meet More NASA Glenn Employees
-Edited by Nancy Smith Kilkenny, SGT Inc.
NASA's Glenn Research Center