Author Non-Fiction Book
NASA (USA) and ESA (Switzerland) management experience.
High above the Atlantic back when flying was still considered a novelty, the captain of my Boeing 747 flight from Germany to Buenos Aires, Argentina, invited me into the cockpit and showed me our marvelous world from above the clouds when I was only 7 years old. Ever since then I knew I wanted to work with planes. Many years later my love for aviation led me to graduate from The University of Texas at Austin in the USA with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and a specialization of celestial mechanics - Please type in my name at the following site to verify my degree: http://registrar.utexas.edu/students/degrees/verify
Software Engineer - Lockheed Martin - NASA - JSC - GRAF Lab
My first job after college was at NASA's Graphics Research and Analysis Facility (GRAF) under Edmond Khouri and James Maida, learning to code in C, adjusting camera focal points and calculating Orbital shadows created by the Space Station whizzing around the earth every 90 minutes. Predicting harsh lighting conditions, it turns out, is pivotal for docking operations of two vehicles in Space.
I also worked on generating dynamic simulations of human EVA models using a software program called SD/FAST and conducted, co-authored and presented a Virtual Reality (VR) human subject study using a 6 DOF joystick operated translation table actuated via stepper motors at the Human Computer Interactions (HCI) conference in Munich Germany entitled "Effects on Training Using Illumination In Virtual Environments".
Next I hopped over from the GRAF at the Johnson Space Center in Bldg. 15 to Bldg. 9 to write some real time Code in C on the Linux operating system for the 60 foot hydraulically actuated robotics arm simulating the ISS Space Station Remote Manipulator. I worked to improve the software safety features of the SSRMS simulator and got to implement an autonomous payload grappling control algorithm. I also served as one of the Test Directors operating several robotics training facilities at NASA's ER5 Branch that were used to train a plethora of Astronauts over the years on how to dock and assemble the International Space Station components, from entire Station Modules to smaller Orbital Replacement Units called ORUs.
This video opens with me in the Test Director seat and shows the docking operations of the MPLM logistics module to the Node of the ISS
One of my fondest memories is having lead the creation of a night operations class that built upon my previous experience with harsh Orbital lighting conditions. Every 90 minutes the ISS passes through the shadow of the Earth and so most docking operations will have to account for the transition from utterly bright to pitch black, utilizing several ISS and special docking lights. Consequently, this class was given at night when all the lights in NASA's Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (Building 9) could be turned off to simulate realistic Orbital night passes. The large picture at the top was taken during one of those training operations in which the SSRMS simulator is grappled to a payload in front of the Shuttle cargo bay.
Midway through my time at JSC I took on more responsibilities as a Contractor Delivery Order or Contracts Manager for NASA's ER5 Branch and also obtained my Project Management Professional license (exp.) from the Project Management Institute.
One of the perks of working at the Johnson Space Center was being able to attend many Astronaut debriefings in which Astronauts, especially first timers, recounted the life altering event of what it is like to fly in Space. I was also fortunate to attend the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Landing on the Moon in which the then Flight Director Gene Kranz talked about the time of the Apollo program and a call to renewed interest to return to he Moon.
Gene Kranz reminiscing about the Apollo days
When NASA decided to explore missions to Near Earth Asteroids we needed a mockup for future training events, so I envisioned and created an 8x8 foot Asteroid wall consisting of two 4x8 plywood panels and secret proportions of chicken wire, cement, Styrofoam beats, sheetrock joint compound or float, spray glue and spray paint as seen in this picture:
My Artistic Creation of a Near Earth Asteroid
When it was time for a change, I accepted a job as an aerospace project manager near Lucerne in Switzerland working for maxon motor, a company that has and still is providing most of the small electromechanical actuators used on all of JPLs Martian rovers.
During my 3 years in Europe, I got to interact professionally with folks from the European Space Agency (ESA) as well as British, German and Italian aerospace and defense companies. One of my greatest joys was to work on the Qualification campaign and leading the life cycle testing in Italy for the actuators of the ESA ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover, slated to fly to Mars in 2022. The absolute greatest joy, however, was being able to explore Europe and reconnect with my heritage.
A prototype of one of the actuators slated to fly to Mars in 2022 on the Rosalind Franklin rover.
While on business travel in Italy, I learned about Honeybee Robotics in California and their out of this world exploration systems like drills and sampling systems used for planetary science missions such as space mining and in-situ resource utilization.
This company was the smallest, but one of the most innovative companies I had the pleasure of working for. As is customary with smaller companies, I wore multiple hats. As the Programs Manager, I was responsible for all 30+ projects while overseeing finances and general operations. I helped grow the team from about 30 to over 60 employees in the 3+ years I worked with Vice President Kris Zacny and Engineering Director Gale Paulsen and I oversaw the relocation of the company from the original Pasadena to the new Altadena location.
Bonfire Teambuilding at Playa del Rey near LA in California
Coming full circle because it made sense at the time, I relocated back to where I started my career close to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. As the Product Development Group Manager at Jacobs for the NASA JETS contract, I was responsible for the output of 270+ aerospace employees. I lead a team of 5 section managers for work consisting of life support systems, power and propulsion, display and control, telemetry and communication, fluid systems, and robotics for a combined annual contract value of $60M+. I was hired among other reasons to implement organizational change management, to change the culture from a reactive to a proactive management of said projects. I also chaired periodic project health status reviews. The video above shows my JETS team's contribution to NASA's Launch Abort System that was tested in July of 2019. We provided the flight instrumentation, avionics, power systems, GN&C, Electronic Data Recorders, as well as end to end systems engineering and integration for the Crew Module and the Separator Ring.
I was hired by Paragon to start up and run the largest program the company had ever worked. I took the program from kickoff through Systems Requirements Review and a good portion of the way to PDR. I lead and was responsible for all aspects of the program including customer and subcontractor management and helped grow the team in the process from a handful of engineers to a sizable number. Since the NASA award for this contract has been slow in materializing, I then focused on the proposal and contractual efforts to fully secure this large multi million dollar program. Risk and Agile management practices are the 2 key management strategies that are expected to keep the program running as planned, profitable and on schedule.