Taking Engineering to a New Level—Q&A with NASA engineer Adriana Ocampo

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Adriana Ocampo, PhD, is the Science Program Manager at NASA headquarters. Take a look at NASA’s Q&A with the accomplished engineer.

Where are you from?

I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and I was raised in Argentina. My family and I moved to the United States when I was a teenager. I now live in Washington, DC.

Describe the first time you made a personal connection with outer space.

When I was a little girl, I would go on the roof of my house and look at the stars and wonder how far they were away from me. I would also make “spacecraft” with the pots and pans from my mother’s kitchen. I would dress my doll up as an astronaut, and my dog Taurus was my co-pilot.

How did you end up working in the space program?

As soon as I landed in the USA I asked: “Where is NASA?” After my junior year in high school, and thanks to the Space Exploration Post 509—sponsored by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—I was able to first volunteer at JPL and then work there as an employee during the summer. As I started college I continued to work at JPL. I majored in geology at the California State University at Los Angeles, earning a B.S. there in 1983. I then got my Master of Science in planetary geology from California State University, Northridge. I received both my degrees while working full time at JPL as a research scientist. I’m currently finishing my PhD at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Who inspired you?

My parents were my inspiration. They always encouraged me to reach for the stars and instilled in me the knowledge that education was the gateway to making my dreams come true. Space exploration was my passion from a very young age, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. I would dream and design space colonies while sitting atop the roof of my family’s home in Argentina.

What is a Science Program Manager?

Some of my duties include being the New Frontiers lead program executive. New Frontiers includes the Juno mission to Jupiter, the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the asteroid sample return mission OSIRIS-REx. I am also the lead Venus scientist responsible for NASA’s collaboration with ESA’s Venus Express mission, JAXA’s Venus Climate Orbit and the Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG), which develops strategic plans and assessments for the exploration of this planet.

Tell us about a favorite moment so far in your career.

A favorite moment would have to be my research that led to the discovery of the Chicxulub impact crater. The impact that formed this crater caused the extinction of more than 50 percent of the Earth’s species, including the dinosaurs. I wrote my master’s and PhD theses on this crater, and I have led six research expeditions to study this amazing event that changed the evolution of life on our planet.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the same career path as you?

“Dream and never give up.” When thinking about the great adventure that you have ahead, dream and never give up, be persistent and always be true to your heart. Live life with gusto. I would like to share my mnemonic (STARS) with you from the Girl Scouts book “Recipes for Success:”

STARS

Smile: Life is a great adventure
Transcend to triumph over the negative
Aspire to be the best
Resolve to be true to your heart
Success comes to those who never give up on their dreams

Source: NASA

Siemens Foundation launches new training program to fill building technology industry skills gap

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The Siemens Foundation is advancing its mission to narrow the opportunity gap for young people in the United States in STEM careers by launching a new workforce training program to fill skilled positions in the intelligent buildings industry in collaboration with Siemens Building Technologies and the Association of Controls Professionals (ACP).

Together, the organizations will create community college training programs and develop career pathways into local K-12 systems, both aligned to new, non-proprietary industry certifications under development by ACP.  This innovative program will focus on reaching traditionally underserved or underrepresented student communities and providing them the opportunity to excel in a software-driven field. The Foundation will invest more than $1.6 million in the workforce training program over a three-year period, with the first iteration expected to launch in DeKalb County in metro Atlanta in late spring.

“Operating and maintaining today’s smart building systems requires skilled, technology-minded professionals, but companies like Siemens continue to have difficulty in finding skilled applicants for these open positions,” said Dave Hopping, CEO of Siemens Building Technologies division, Americas. “The development of career pathways from K-12 through community college, leading to high-quality certification, will help address this gap and grow the diversity of individuals who have an opportunity to receive training, compete for these software-driven jobs and earn a competitive salary.”

“A career focused on how to make buildings smarter and more efficient is truly one of purpose, giving students the opportunity to pursue work in a field that will play a significant role in reducing emissions and making our world more sustainable for years to come,” said Brian Lovell, president of ACP. “There are tens of thousands of jobs in the building automation field open today and our program’s mission is to provide the next-generation workforce with the skills and opportunity to fill these jobs and move the industry, and our world, forward.”

The intelligent buildings workforce training program is a part of the Siemens Foundation’s new SPARKS (STEM Partnerships to Advance Real-World Knowledge and Skills) Initiative, an effort to stand-up focused and employer-informed STEM training programs across industries like smart infrastructure, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing.

The Foundation will work in tandem with Siemens core businesses to develop targeted programming that addresses specific workforce development needs across their industry. Though each program will be unique, all share common goals under the broader SPARKS Initiative to provide economic opportunity for America’s next generation of workers and grow talent for relevant industries.

Since its inception, the Siemens Foundation’s mission has been to ignite and sustain today’s STEM workforce and tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. The Foundation has invested more than $115 million in the United States to advance workforce development and education initiatives in science, technology, engineering, and math. Its mission is inspired by the culture of innovation, research and continuous learning that is the hallmark of Siemens’ companies. Together, the programs at the Siemens Foundation are narrowing the opportunity gap for young people in the United States in STEM careers.

Recently, the Foundation took a closer look at the widening U.S. income gap and shifts in workforce demographics and determined it could better address the education and economic challenges facing young adults by leveraging Siemens own business expertise and the Foundation’s experience in building and implementing youth STEM initiatives. This focus led to the Foundation’s launch of the STEM Middle-Skill Initiative in 2015, its inaugural investment in workforce development.

“The Foundation’s mission, at its core, is to ensure opportunity for those who traditionally have been left behind and make good on America’s most basic social compact  – to ensure that those who set goals and work hard can provide for themselves, their families, and their communities,” said David Etzwiler, CEO of the Siemens Foundation. “Work like the STEM Middle-Skill Initiative and SPARKS partnerships allows us to continue to deliver on this mission by increasing awareness, advancing proven training models, and communicating the value of STEM middle-skill careers.”

Through the STEM Middle-Skill Initiative, the Siemens Foundation has created an ecosystem of national partners, government leaders, and educational stakeholders to further its workforce development mission including the National Governors Association, The Aspen Institute, Advance CTE, New America, among others. These partnerships have resulted in expanded work-based learning opportunities, including new registered apprenticeship programs, the first national conference on apprenticeship, growing excellent community college STEM programs, and building a new generation of CTE students.

For further information on the Siemens Foundation, please visit https://www.siemens-foundation.org/programs/stem-middle-skill-initiative/.

15 years ago, Google’s CEO had a brilliant response to a tricky interview question – and it helped him get hired

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When it comes to job interviews, we all want to give answers that make us stand out from the rest of the candidates. That means knowing how to answer each question, including the tricky ones designed to stump you.

But what if you don’t know the answer to a question?

That’s a problem Google CEO Sundar Pichai faced in 2004, when he first interviewed at the company for the VP of product management position. In a 2017 chat with students at his alma mater, Indian Institute of technology, Pichai shared details about his interview experience at one of the world’s largest tech companies.

In the first few rounds, Pichai said the interviewers asked him what he thought of Gmail. There was just one problem: Google had just announced the email service that very same day, on April 1st. “I thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke,” Pichai said.

He responded by saying he couldn’t answer the question because he hadn’t been able to use the product.

“It was only in the fourth interview when someone asked, ‘Have you seen Gmail?’ I said no. So he actually showed it to me. And then the fifth interviewer asked, ‘What do you think of Gmail?’ And I was able to start answering it then,” Pichai said at the talk.

Most candidates would have attempted to make something up before trying to move on to the next question. Pichai did the exact opposite and ended up impressing his interviewers (after all, he got the job).

Here’s why his response was so brilliant:

1. He displayed “intellectual humility”

More often than not, telling an interviewer you don’t know the answer to something will dock off a few points, but it’s better than coming up with something that may be completely false. Science agrees, too. Research has shown that people with “intellectual humility” – or, as they say, the willingness to admit what you don’t know – are better learners. Laszlo Bock , Google’s former senior VP of people operations, calls it one of the top qualities he looks for in a candidate. In an interview with The New York Times, he said: “Successful, bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure. They instead commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved.” The next time you’re faced with a difficult interview question, stay calm and take a moment to think before you respond. Pichai carefully thought about the question. What could he say about something he hadn’t even seen? Gmail, at the time, was a newly launched, invite-only product, and so he concluded that it was acceptable to not know the answer.

2. He had a reason

Instead of simply saying “I don’t know,” Pichai told his interviewers why he didn’t know: he wasn’t able to use the product. By doing so, he expressed curiosity, which is a trait employers always love to see in a candidate.
Pichai recognized his advantage in the scenario: for every “I don’t know,” there lies an opportunity to learn. And by the fourth round, his interviewer decided to demonstrate the product.

3. He redirected the conversation

After asserting what he didn’t know, Pichai redirected the conversation to assert what he did know. Getting a glimpse of Gmail gave him a clearer understanding of the product. This allowed him to display the forthrightness and intellect that he would go on to become so famous for at Google.

The takeaway is that giving an honest answer doesn’t happen in a vacuum where you score virtue points. The value of being intellectually honest is that it gives you the opportunity to show what you do know.

Continue on to YahooNews to read the complete article.

Computer Science Demand Is Soaring Due To Tech Bubble 2.0

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For the past several years, I’ve been warning that the tech startup boom (and the surge of interest in “coding”) is actually a dangerous bubble that is driven by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s ultra-loose monetary policies since the Great Recession. A recent New York Times piece called “The Hard Part of Computer Science? Getting Into Class” describes how young people are clamoring to study computer science:

Lured by the prospect of high-salary, high-status jobs, college students are rushing in record numbers to study computer science.

Now, if only they could get a seat in class.

On campuses across the country, from major state universities to small private colleges, the surge in student demand for computer science courses is far outstripping the supply of professors, as the tech industry snaps up talent. At some schools, the shortage is creating an undergraduate divide of computing haves and have-nots — potentially narrowing a path for some minority and female students to an industry that has struggled with diversity.

The number of undergraduates majoring in the subject more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, to over 106,000, while tenure-track faculty ranks rose about 17 percent, according to the Computing Research Association, a nonprofit that gathers data from about 200 universities.

Economics and the promise of upward mobility are driving the student stampede. While previous generations of entrepreneurial undergraduates might have aspired to become lawyers or doctors, many students now are leery of investing the time, and incurring six-figure debts, to join those professions.

The tech frenzy can be seen in the chart of the monthly count of global VC deals that raised $100 million or more since 2007. According to this chart, a new “unicorn” startup was born every four days in 2018.

To read the complete article, continue on to Forbes.

How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter From Scratch in 30 Minutes

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You know enough to regularly update your resume—so if you find a job posting you’re interested in, you’re halfway through the application process.The other half, of course, is your cover letter. If you have some time and are just rusty, you can make a game plan to write a draft, then take a break, and come back to it with fresh eyes.

But if you see the deadline to apply is just 30 minutes away, you don’t have any time to spare. Here’s how to write a cover letter that will bolster your application—in just half an hour. (And if you need to revamp your resume or prep for interview in the same amount time, look here and here.)

Minutes 1 Through 10: Write Down Your Main Points

Maybe it’s just me, but I often struggle the most on the opening line of a cover letter. I know I shouldn’t lead with “My name is…,” and I want something that’ll grab the hiring manager’s attention. But my quest for the perfect beginning can lead me to spend 15 minutes (or more) typing and deleting the same line over and over. (And at that rate, my 30-minute cover letter would be all of two sentences.)

So, skip the intro if need be, and just start writing about why you’re a great fit for the open position. Don’t stress about the very best way to phrase your current responsibilities. Just write down your main points.

Need a prompt? Answer these questions: What do you find most exciting (or interesting) about the position? What relevant experience do you have? What would you bring to the role (and/or company) that’s unique to you?

Definitely make sure to have your resume and the job description open or printed out next to you. That way you can glance over at both and make sure you’re highlighting the right experience.

Minutes 10 Through 20: Add in Examples

OK, so you’ve written out all of reasons why you’re perfect for the job. Now it’s time to make sure you’re on the same page as the hiring manager. How so? Go back to that job description.

Re-read what the position calls for. Did you mention the experience and skills they’ll be screening for? To connect the dots in a way that’s clear—but wouldn’t be confused with a laundry list—add in an example or two.

If the job calls for people skills, swap out the line that reads, “I have excellent people skills” with a line that explains how in previous roles you’ve managed relationships with board members, which taught you about working with opinionated stakeholders. Does the position call for someone with sales experience? An anecdote about how you’ve been in sales since you set up your first lemonade stand when you were seven years old is memorable.

Continue onto Muse to read the complete article.

Hyundai shows off ‘walking car’ at CES

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The Hyundai Elevate Walking Car

Hyundai has shown off a small model of a car it says can activate robotic legs to walk at 3mph (5km/h) over rough terrain and also able to climb a 5ft (1.5m) wall and jump a 5ft gap.

The Hyundai Elevate could be useful for emergency rescues following natural disasters, Hyundai said.

It was part of a project exploring “beyond the range of wheels”, it added.

The concept has been in development for three years and was unveiled at the CES technology fair in Las Vegas.

“When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field. They have to go the rest of the way by foot,” said Hyundai vice-president John Suh.

“Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.”

Mr. Suh also suggested that wheelchair users could be collected via the vehicles, which could “walk” up to the front door of a building with step-only access.

Prof David Bailey, from Aston Business School, said: “Often car companies bring out lots of concepts which may or may not make it into production but it’s great to think in new ways about mobility.

“For most of us, it’s going to be wheels and roads but in extreme situations there may be scope for this sort of thing.

Continue on to BBCnews.com to read the complete article.

The Institute for Educational Leadership Launches Rise Up for Equity Campaign to Eliminate Barriers to Equity in Education and Workforce Development

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education and workforce

The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) announced the launch of Rise Up for Equity, a digital and grassroots campaign to prepare, support, and mobilize leaders to eliminate systemic barriers to equity in education and workforce development.
This so everyone – especially transition-age youth and families in communities with inequitable opportunities across the United States – has the opportunity to succeed and lead independent lives.

“IEL incentivizes communities to innovate and prepares and supports local and state leaders to improve opportunity and outcomes, and close gaps in access and achievement in education and workforce development in under-resourced communities,” said Johan Uvin, President of IEL. “To us, equity is about creating more opportunities for success in education and workforce development for children, youth, adults and families, particularly in communities where that opportunity is lacking due to systemic and structural reasons.”

IEL’s strategy intends to help alleviate poverty and its impact and to contribute to creating new gateways to prosperity. Today 15 million children, or 21 percent of all children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, and 51 percent of students across U.S. public schools are low income.[1] Childhood poverty is associated with negative outcomes in adulthood, such as lower academic achievement, employment rates, and poorer health.

For more information about how you can Rise Up for Equity to support leaders so all children, young adults, and communities can succeed, visit www.riseupforequity.com or join the conversation on social media using #RiseUpforEquity.

[1] According to the 2016 fact sheet of the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)

2019 Hot Jobs

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Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers are revolutionizing the STEM field. If your New Years goals include a career in this field, or educational studies to advance your career, check out these hot jobs for 2019!

Software Developer

Annual Wage: $101,790

Employment of software developers is projected to grow 24 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

Computer Systems Administrator

Annual Wage: $81,100

Employment of network and computer systems administrators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Computer networks are critical parts of almost every organization. Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of these networks. They organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks, wide area networks, network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems.

Petroleum Engineer

Annual Wage: $132,280

Employment of petroleum engineers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface. Petroleum engineers also find new ways to extract oil and gas from older wells.

Architect

Annual Wage: $78,470

Employment of architects is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.

Cartographer

Annual Wage: $63,990

Employment of cartographers is projected to grow 19 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Cartographers collect, measure, and interpret geographic information to create and update maps and charts for regional planning, education, emergency response, and other purposes.

Source: bls.gov

The Unspoken Rules of Job Searching in January

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Job search

I don’t have to tell you that January is quite the kick-starting month. Exhibit A: Have you noticed how packed your gym suddenly gets every January due to fitness-related resolutions?

But it’s also a big time of year for careers. See, plenty of us have just spent the holidays reevaluating our goals (and having to talk about said goals with judging family members). As a result, we enter January feeling motivated to make a change—whether it’s to go after a new job, a new company, or a new field completely.

But before setting the wheels in motion, it’s important to understand exactly what to expect from a job search this month. Here’s what the experts say:

Mid-January Is Your Best Bet for Applying

Why? As HR executive and Muse career coach Angela Smith points out, most people will still be recovering from the holiday break that first week.

“Companies might be kick-starting their annual hiring plans in early January,” she says, so once those processes start to pick up your best bet is to apply toward the middle of the month to ensure your application doesn’t get lost in a sea of unopened holiday mail.

Hiring Is a Big Priority in January

“In sales the end of the quarter is when people don’t take time off. In recruiting people tend to not take time off in the beginning of the year because that’s the busiest time,” says Smith.

The reasons why are several-fold, she explains. The new quarter brings new budgeting plans, which can mean more money to hire more people. It also brings new sales forecasts or company-wide goals, which can indicate where a company might be focusing their recruiting efforts and which teams they’re looking to build out. “Companies might be kick-starting their annual hiring plans in early January,” she says.

That said, Smith warns that this doesn’t necessarily mean that there are more jobs available in January than other times of the year.

…But There’s Also More Competition

January tends to bring an influx of eager job seekers, leading to more competition for job openings.

To state the obvious, “there will be a higher volume of people applying for jobs in January as more people wait until the holidays are over to begin looking for a possible change,” says Jamie Cole, Senior Account Manager at Merritt Staffing, a full-service recruiting agency.

Besides the #NewYearNewYou energy, folks may have a financial incentive to wait until January to job hunt. As Cole notes, companies often have a policy where bonuses aren’t distributed until the end of the year, and “people ideally do not like leaving money on the table with their last employer.”

…And the Process May Be Slower

While hiring in January may be more aggressive, it may also be a more drawn-out process.

Besides new budgets, January could also indicate other internal changes for companies: “I’ve worked with companies that have implemented a new ATS [applicant tracking system] in the new calendar year, so they’re testing out new systems or processes,” says Smith, which could mean delays in getting recruiting off the ground.

And, says Cole, you have to “be aware that not every company may have a finalized budget in place for the year…and this may cause a delay in hiring decisions.”

However, she notes, this could also be a positive: Since they haven’t yet filled those roles, you have a shot at locking them down if you apply in January.

The bigger reason why the process tends to slow down in January is because there’s no real rush. Simply put, “[employers] take their time because they have the time and the money” to do so, says Smith. “Pace yourself, and don’t expect super quick responses or a super quick process,” she adds.

What Does This All Mean?

The short answer? Treat your job search in January like you would any other month.

Keep in mind how your application will get through an ATS. Tailor your cover letter and resume. Network to get a leg-up at a specific company. Follow up to keep yourself on someone’s radar.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2019

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women-computer-science

Resumes get a bad rap. We write them begrudgingly, usually during periods of transition, or tumult. We fiddle with phrasing and format, agonizing over how to craft our qualifications into the best resume possible. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

For smart job seekers, resumes are an opportunity — to make a case for their candidacy, to get the salary they’ve earned, and to convince any hiring manager she would be crazy not to hire them.

Yahoo MONEY teamed up with Dana Leavy-Detrick, founder of Brooklyn Resume Studio, to help you become one of those job seekers. Here’s how to write the perfect resume — and a free resume template that you can download and use for your next job interview.

Resume sample-Yahoo MONEY

(Resume design courtesy of Dana Leavy-Detrick; click here for a free downloadable template)

[1] The Best Resume Format

When it comes to resume format and design, opt for a clean layout. A recent study from the job site Ladders found that resumes with so-called F-pattern and E-pattern layouts, which mimic how our eyes tend to scan web pages, hold a recruiter’s attention for longer than those aligned down the center, or from right to left.

There is no one specific “best” font for resumes. You should use the same font style throughout, Leavy-Detrick says, but play with different weights and sizes to draw a recruiter’s eye to key parts of your resume. Sans serif fonts usually work best — Franklin Gothic, Calibri, and Avenir (the last of which we used for the attached template) are three of Leavy-Detrick’s favorites.

[2] Make Your Resume Stand Out

If you’re applying for an investment banking job, a hot-pink resume probably won’t do you any favors. But subtle pops of color, like the orange used here, will work for just about everyone.

“It’s very minimal, and gives a bit of a design element,” Leavy-Detrick says.

If you do use color, “Use it sparingly,” she warns. “Stick to one color, and one color that’s going to print well.”

[3] Add a Skills Section in Your Resume

Lead with the good stuff. The top of your resume should include “critical keywords and a quick snapshot of your core strengths,” Leavy-Detrick says.

Hard skills, tangible attributes that can easily be measured, take precedence here, so highlight them accordingly. If you’re in a tech-driven field, software and programming expertise is what employers want to see on your resume. If you’re in a creative industry, design and communication skills might be your best bet.

[4] Make a Resume That Shows Impact

To prove you’re worth a hiring manager’s time, highlight recent examples of what you bring to the table. Statistics that build upon your skills section are most impactful — bonus points if they show a track record of growth, revenue, and profitability, Leavy-Detrick says.

If you’re drawing a blank, she suggests adding resume skills that can help solve a “problem area” for the company you’re applying to.

“Impact doesn’t always have to be measured by metrics,” she says. “Cultural improvements, special projects, customer growth … anything that showed success can work.”

[5] What to Leave Off a Resume

Be discerning with the content—don’t list salary requirements, use tables or columns, or tick off every job you’ve ever had. The same goes for social media profiles. Unless your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds are relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s probably best to leave those off your resume.

“Only include them if they add value in some way,” Leavy-Detrick says. “If you have zero followers, you may not want to advertise that.”

Continue on to Yahoo MONEY to read the complete article.

Dr. Mae Jemison: On a ‘Starship’ Enterprise

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Doctor Mae Jemison floating in spacesuit

By Brady Rhoades

The first female African-American astronaut in space was not cured of curiosity when she whirled about the cosmos as part of NASA’s STS-47 in 1992. Her vision sharpened, like a kid who takes her first plane flight. Wondrous, yes, but still a hint.

Space, for Dr. Mae Jemison, is a wild trip in your bones and a homecoming in your soul. “It’s the one thing that connects us all around the world,” she said, in an interview with Diversity in STEAM Magazine. “And it also connects us to the planet and to the greater universe.”

Jemison is in demand, but she manages telescopic vision when it comes to her current project: 100 Year Starship.

The goal? Human travel to another solar system in the next 100 years. “Creating an extraordinary tomorrow actually creates a better world today,” Jemison said.

Jemison, the principal and leader of the 100 Year Starship program, stated on the organization’s website (100yearss.org): “When we explore space, we garner the greatest benefits here at home. The challenge of traveling to another star system could generate transformative activities, knowledge, and technologies that would dramatically benefit every nation on Earth in the near term and years to come.

“The concept of humans traveling to other star systems may appear fantastical, but no more so than the fantasy of reaching the moon was in the days of H. G. Wells. The First Men in the Moon was published considerably less than 100 years before humans landed on the Moon (1901 vs. 1969), and the rapidity of scientific and technological advances was not nearly as great as it is today. The truth is that the best ideas sound crazy at first. And then there comes a time when we can’t imagine a world without them.”

Jemison was the science mission specialist on STS-47 Spacelab. STS-47 was a cooperative mission between the United States and Japan. The eight-day mission was accomplished in 127 orbits of the Earth, and included 44 Japanese and U.S. life science and materials processing experiments.

Dr Mae Jemison seated resting hand on chin
Dr. Mae Jemison

She was a co-investigator on the bone cell research experiment that traveled with the mission. In completing her first space flight, Jemison logged more than 190 hours in space. She’d been starstruck all her life; that didn’t change. “I imagined myself on another star, and I was connected to that star because I’m part of the universe,” she said.

Dr. Jemison, the author of Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life and other books, overcame all the obstacles placed on the career course, and life course, of an African-American woman. She negotiated each pothole, each roadblock, moved on, didn’t look back. “You make sure you’re doing the best you can do, but you don’t hang out at stumbling blocks that other people want you to hang around.”

Her advice for those facing similar challenges? “You have to be comfortable with yourself,” she said. “The key issue is to understand criticism. Is it coming because you aren’t doing something right or because someone has a different expectation of you?”

Jemison, who earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University in 1977 and a doctorate degree in medicine from Cornell University in 1981, urges others to focus on education.  “There is nothing we can do that is more important in this world than education,” she said. “Here’s the thing: Children don’t get to do 8 years old over again… if we fail to take advantage, then we have lost.”

The astronaut who went on to be inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Medical Association Hall of Fame, and the Texas Science Hall of Fame, started off gazing at the night sky as a girl in Chicago and watching the Gemini and Apollo flights on TV.

“I used to be really irritated when I was a little girl that there were no women astronauts,” she said. “And no people of color in the astronaut program. Really irritated.”

She said there’s a difference between role models and inspiration. She’s had many role models, including cats (“They’re so confident; they don’t take nonsense”), but inspiration is another matter. “Life inspired me,” she said.

Dr Jemison onstage with Stephen Hawkings
(L-R) Ann Druyan, producer, co-founder and CEO of Cosmos Studios; Zac Manchester, post-doctoral fellow, Harvard University; Yuri Milner, Breakthrough Prize and DST Global founder; Stephen Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research, University of Cambridge; Freeman Dyson, Emeritus Professor, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study; Mae Jamison, NASA Astronaut, Principal 100 Year Starship Foundation; Peter Worden, Chairman, Breaktrough Prize Foundation and former NASA Director; Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University; and Philip Lubin, UC Santa Barbara Physics Professor, pose for a photo together. BRYAN BEDDER/GETTY IMAGES FOR BREAKTHROUGH PRIZE FOUNDATION

Jemison, a lover of the arts who dove deeply into dancing, has a background in engineering and medical research. She has worked in the areas of computer programming, printed wiring board materials, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, computer magnetic disc production, and reproductive biology. She completed her internship at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center in June 1982 and worked as a general practitioner with INA/Ross Loos Medical Group in Los Angeles until December of that year.

From January 1983 through June 1985, Jemison was the Area Peace Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa. On return to the United States, Jemison joined CIGNA Health Plans of California in 1985 and was working as a general practitioner and taking graduate engineering classes in Los Angeles when she was chosen for the astronaut program in 1987.

She worked on the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory and the Science Support Group activities.

Then she was chosen to go to space, and she made history. “We have been in science all along,” she said about women of color. “Even when people didn’t want us involved. I want folks to understand they have the right to be involved. They don’t have to ask.”

Jemison left NASA in 1993—with a new mission. “My path was to include other people,” she said. She formed the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, which fosters science literacy. The non-profit, founded in honor of Jemison’s late mother, who was a school teacher, is all about “personal excellence.” The foundation’s main program, developed in 1994, is The Earth We Share international science camp. Students from the United States and around the world work together to solve such global issues as, “How Many People Can the Earth Hold?” and “Predict the Hot Public Stocks for the Year 2030.”

Dr. Mae Jemison in Star Trek episode picture Lt. Ohura
Jemison appeared in a speaking role on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Lieutenant Palmer, an officer serving aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D in 2369. Seen here speaking to Nichelle Nichols, who played communications officer Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek series and movies.

Today, if you visit the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City, Jemison will speak directly to you about the contributions women have made to the space program, via a life-size hologram in the exhibit Defying Gravity: Women in Space. She narrates, discussing her career and those of other women involved in the space program while visitors wear Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality headsets and walk around the exhibit. Holograms appear, helping to illustrate her points, including a life-size rendering of an spacewalking astronaut that appears to be tethered to the real-life Enterprise that hangs above the installation.

Jemison’s story jumpstarted when, as a girl, she did a simple thing: she looked up.

The story never really ends; the cosmos are infinite; you can never look too closely or far enough. All this is to say Jemison is still looking up, and she wants others—especially generations to come—to do the same.

That’s why she coaxed a sea of people to do just that on September 28, 2018, as part of her Look Up project. “We want to chronicle what happens when you look up at the sky,” she said. “What do you hope, dream, think, fear, wish, plan, love?” Stories of those voyages were posted to the digital world as poems, songs, photos and art. That day and in the days after, Americans, Africans, French, Japanese, girls, boys, old, young and you-name-them connected in strange and soothing ways.

“What’s above us, unites us,” Jemison said.