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Author: admin, 29.03.2014. Category: Severe Tinnitus Symptoms

Get That Life: How I Became a NASA Engineer Despite My DisabilityVictoria Garcia says being deaf can be a challenge at work, but she says the experiences she's had have been worth the extra effort.
Rae Marshall PhotographyI entered college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a computer science major but decided on mechanical engineering since I liked to work with my hands.I had two internships that helped shape my career. Rae Marshall PhotographyAdvertisement - Continue Reading BelowBefore I graduated from RPI, I wanted to make sure that I had a backup plan. Rae Marshall PhotographyThe most challenging thing about my job is dealing with meetings, especially teleconferences. I lived with my mom, and she is a very intelligent woman but definitely not mechanically inclined. The first was with Benét Laboratories, a research and development company known for manufacturing cannons and mortars, located in Watervliet, New York. The simplest way to explain system engineering is to analyze the product from an overall perspective.
The most memorable projects I worked on involved testing the safety and efficacy of the cannons the company manufactured.Nearing graduation, I still didn't think about working for NASA because, honestly, I thought it was beyond my capabilities. When there is a huge product, such as a launch vehicle, you have thousands of people working on different aspects of the product. I can only lip-read one person at a time, and that can be difficult when people interrupt each other.
I became bolder as I got older, replacing a ceiling fan and taking apart two flat-screen TVs to replace the power supply units.I was born profoundly deaf. However, I saw an opportunity for Entry Point, an internship program for people with disabilities studying science-, technology-, engineering-, and mathematics-related fields.
The best part about the interviews was that there were no awkward explanations, and all managers fully understood the situation with my hearing and had no problems doing an email interview.
There is a group of people working on electronics, another one on the structural design, another on the propulsion, and so on. I used to just skip teleconference meetings, but it was getting tiring and frustrating to not know what was going on.


I was a bit uncomfortable applying for this program because I didn't want someone to hire me just because I was deaf.But interviewing was hard. One of the basic tasks of a system engineer is to make sure all of those groups are in sync. Both of my parents work in the finance industry, so they weren't exactly experts in engineering or the space industry. I knew that I would not be able to do anything that required listening over the phone or radio, like being a commercial pilot.
I would message the relay service (either by instant message over the Internet or on the TTY phones), giving them the number of the person I wanted to call. Usually, I work on a project, complete it, and then have a completely new job on a different project.Another thing I enjoy about working for NASA is that working in the space industry taps into my love for problem solving. If there are new people, I tell them upfront to make sure that only one person speaks at a time and I ask them to face in my general direction so I can understand them.
I believe the biggest reason why I ended up becoming an engineer is because of my love for problem solving and figuring out how to achieve a goal.
When I was in high school, I focused on careers that didn't require a lot of listening, like computer science. The relay operator acts as a translator by typing everything that is said to me and by saying out loud everything I type. Coincidentally, this makes people be more concise when they speak instead of just talking away and interrupting each other. When I was reaching out for job opportunities, I would call an employer (via relay operator) to explain that I am deaf and need to set up a time for an interview using the relay service.
If I am presenting to a very large group, I ask them to raise their hands if they have questions because I won't be able to hear them ask me the question while I am presenting.
We try to make sure we account for any possible future issues to focus on safety, so we have to ask a lot of "what ifs." Engineers tend to have an inquisitive mind, so we ask the tough questions that have no obvious answer. They probably feel like they are back in school raising their hand, but people at NASA have been happy to accommodate me for whatever I need.I wouldn't say that I have a unique strength because of my disability, but rather a unique perspective on life, which can make me a stronger person.


After that, I felt better about applying for Entry Point, because the companies already know that I am deaf, and I don't have to go through that awkward explanation of my disability and also feel disappointed when they don't call me back. Also, because of my deafness, I have to prove myself quite a bit, and this can help me in other ways. Entry Point connected me with NASA, which hired me as an intern with the Boeing Fluids Group at Kennedy Space Center.My internship with Kennedy Space Center was amazing in the sense that I was right in the middle of the action. It could be a kind of analysis, testing, redesigning, or even just slightly changing the mission.I've worked at Marshall for a little over six years now, and I can see myself working for NASA for a long time.
For example, whenever I present something at work or school, I am extra diligent about thinking of all the possible questions or issues that people may bring up. My job was to help test the water and ammonia lines for modules that were planned to be part of the International Space Station. I was able to go inside the components of the International Space Station before they were launched.
When you work for the government, promotions mean more responsibility and more money, but my job title remains system engineer.
I was able to watch my first shuttle launch from just three miles away (most people don't get closer than six miles) and feel the vibrations of the launch. For every person who has a disability who enters in the competitive career field, it becomes more ordinary and comfortable to have disability workarounds in the work environment, causing fewer obstacles for people with disabilities to join the workforce.
Being so close to the action of the space shuttle definitely inspired me to pursue a career at NASA.



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