sisters and me to believe that we could accomplish anything we wanted. He also loved math and science and found astronomy fascinating.
What would you say are the three keys of success that have directly been used in your life?
First, always be willing to give of your time and talents. Second, never be afraid of failure. Lastly, it’s important to maintain balance between work, home, and community involvement.
What types of activities at NASA are geared toward motivating black students to seek careers in science and technology?
In addition to the engineering and scientific work accomplished at NASA, there is a long history of providing outreach to the African American community through partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), summer programs , mentoring, “Take Our Child to Work Day” programs, space camps, science fairs, and more. On a personal level, I derive great pleasure from speaking at local schools, serving as formal and/or informal mentors, participating in career day, judging science fair competitions, etc.
Where do you see space exploration going in the next five years?
Given the work that we do here at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, I’d like to see continued support for new space and Earth Science robotic missions. Of primary interest to me, are those missions with a focus on understanding our changing planet. As for the agency as a whole, I anticipate that we will continue to push human exploration beyond Earth to the moon, Mars, and beyond.
Friday: Ajamu Wesley, senior software architect, IBM
Monday: Reginald Smith, molecular biologist, General Electric
For more information on African American innovators in the sciences, check out the March 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.