first, second, and third posts, there are Latinas working at or for NASA in a wide variety of roles -- doing science, designing equipment, etc. Here are four more smart Latinas to celebrate!
Laurie Y. Carrillo
Laurie Y. Carrillo is a Materials Engineer, currently conducting thermal analysis to support the development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, NASA's next generation spacecraft. She creates computer models to simulate the heating of a spacecraft from internal systems and external environment heating. For this, she uses her knowledge of orbital mechanics, heat transfer, materials, programming, and applied mathematics.
Laurie was born in San Antonio, Texas. Her father was a migrant farm worker, and her mother was the daughter of a trash collector. She attended Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio, Texas, for two years, but spent her junior and senior years at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a residential program for students who are gifted in math and science, where she graduated in 1994. She then earned her BA in Mathematics and Computational & Applied Math, as well as a BS in Materials Science and Engineering from Rice University in 1998. In 2002, she received a MS in Aerospace Engineering, with an emphasis in Space Operations, from the University of Colorado. She returned to Rice University to complete her PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Her area study involved numerical radiative heat transfer at the nanoscale, with applications in space technology, nanorobotics, advanced energy systems, and high speed computing systems.
Her career at NASA started as an intern the summer after her freshman year at college. But her dreams about space started much earlier. She spent many evenings lying on towels alongside her cousins, looking up at the stars, listening while her grandmother told them stories. She was particularly fond of a story about Salina, a young girl who was taken up to heaven and allowed to touch a star. Later, when she saw a Sesame Street segment where Sally Ride launched Oscar the Grouch out of his trash can, she realized there was a place where she could go to work as an adult.
In 1998, she was hired as a flight controller. She spent the next five years in the Advanced Space Propulsion Lab conducting thermal analysis. She also served as the Development Project Lead for the Space and Life Sciences Astromaterials team, and as the Lab Manager for the Advanced Curation Laboratory at Johnson Space Center.
Over her career, she has received many awards, served on several prominent professional committees, and even was involved in the Space Generation Summit held at the World Space Congress. Laurie has been selected by the Society of Women Engineers to receive the Past Presidents Award based on outstanding academic achievement as well as strong engineering potential. She was chosen as a Hispanic Engineering National Achievement Award Conference/Daimler Chrysler Scholar in 2005 and 2008. She was selected as a Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellow for 2006-07. In addition, Laurie led the Mexican American Engineers and Scientists Houston Professional Chapter to receive the highest award that a chapter could receive-Professional Chapter of the Year for 2001. "[A]ny time a Latina breaks a barrier, this opens the door for her to serve as a role model for those following behind. The more Latinas that enter technical fields, the more they will inspire younger generations of Latinas to consider these fields.”
Laurie Y. Carrillo profile on Latina Women of NASA
Reaching for the Stars - Latinas at NASA
Pat Carreon is an electrical engineer who's worked at Goddard Space Flight Center and Johnson Space Center.
She was born in San Antonio, Texas, where she grew up honoring her roots in Mexico and Spain. She earned her BS in Electrical Engineering from Southern Methodist University, and her MS in Electrical Engineering from George Mason University.
While at Goddard, she was the network engineer for the Hubble Space Telescope Vision 2000 project. She also wrote flight software for the Gamma Ray Observatory and helped develop the Data Distribution Facility. In 1998, she transferred to Johnson Space Center, where she worked in the Missions Operations Directorate conducting operations research and strategic development. She also served as the lead for the development of the command servers and data archive server, supporting Shuttle and Space Station missions and simulators.
She is currently working with the Advanced Operations Cadre, reevaluating the way NASA performs operations on future missions and supporting the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations and Desert Research, where astronauts live in an underwater habitat, and Technology Study, where humans and robots are tested in an extreme desert environment in a meteor crater in Arizona.
She serves on the board reviewing proposals for newly designed launch vehicles, as well as examining the requirements necessary to return to flight space shuttle effort, and defining the future role of orbiters and crew exploration vehicles. She also spends time as a mentor for other NASA engineers through the Johnson Space Center mentorship program, as well as mentoring high school students interested in pursuing careers in engineering and science.
Pat Carreon profile on Latina Women of NASA
Adriana Ocampo is a planetary geologist and the Science Program Manager at NASA.
She was born in Barranquilla, Columbia, on January 5, 1955. Her family moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, while she was still an infant, and then again to Pasadena, California, when she was 15, in 1970. In 1983, she graduated with a BS in Geology from California State University, Los Angeles. She then went on to earn her MS in Planetary Geology from California State University, Northridge, in 1997, with a thesis on the Chicxulub impact crater in Mexico. The Chicxulub crater was the major factor that caused a mass extinction 65 million years ago on our planet. Ocampo and her colleagues also discovered the Aorounga Crater Chain in Chad in 1996. She completed her PhD at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Starting in 1973 while she was still in high school, she volunteered at the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and returned as an employee during her summer breaks throughout college.
From 1998 to 2002, she worked as a Program Executive for Space Science missions, including missions with the European Space Agency, Russia, Japan, and Argentina. She also served as the desk officer for NASA's Office of External Relations working with Spain, Portugal, and Latin America.
From 2002 to 2004 she worked as a senior research staff member conducting research in comparative planetology of Solar System bodies. She was a member of the Mars Express Project Scientist Team, and worked to develop and implement the payload-commissioning plan. She also acted as the deputy project scientist for Venus Express, developing science operation architecture and an educational outreach plan.
In 2005, she was the Investigation Scientist for the Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray Spectrometer/High Energy Neutron Detector and the Mars Program Science Division and the Solid Earth and Natural Program.
In 1992, she received the Woman of the Year Award in Science from the Comisión Femenil. She also received the Advisory Council for Women Award at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1996 and the Science and Technology Award from the Chicano Federation in 1997. In 2003, she was selected among the 50 most important women in science by Discovery Magazine. She has served on the National Board of Directors and as the Chair of International Affairs Committee of the US Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, working to establish technical programs of cooperation of university student exchange programs between the US and Mexico. She is a member of The Planetary Society Advisory Council, the Association of Women in Geo-sciences, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Society of Women Engineers mentoring young girls.
Adriana Ocampo biography on Wikipedia
Adriana Ocampo profile on Latina Women of NASA
Berta Alfonso is an electrical and computer science engineer who designed and developed computer hardware and software for projects supporting the Space Shuttle program and the International Space Station. She is currently serving as a University Affairs Office at Kennedy Space Center, leading educational programs connecting NASA with students and faculty around the world.
She was born in Cuba, but her family moved to the United States when she was six. She was enrolled in first grade without knowing any English. Fortunately, she found that math didn't have a language barrier. After high school, she earned her BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Miami. She then went on to earn a MS in Systems Engineering and Management from the University of Central Florida.
She joined NASA as a Design Engineer, where her first design project was a circuit card to emulate the Payload Signal Processor, a shuttle flight box that sends commands to shuttle payloads. Her card was used to test payloads on the ground before being launched, to ensure things work properly once in space.
She has also worked on software used for processing the health and safety of Space Station modules. And she has designed a flight interface card to receive data for analysis while in flight.
She is now serving as the Lead for Eduction in many agency-wide project managed at Kennedy Space Center, effectively merging her two passions: education and engineering.
"Do research and tinker. Learn to use your library resources, and to find reliable information on the internet. Ask questions to people working in fields that interest you. Learn by doing! Remember: You don’t always have to be right. All you have to do is to be willing to learn."
Berta Alfonso profile on Latina Women of NASA
Berta Alfonso profile on Mission Control website