Becoming a NASA Engineer with Joan Melendez Misner

Episode #55
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With all the space travel and exploration missions currently going on, you’ve probably wondered what it takes to work on some of them. However, if you’re not an aerospace engineer, you may be skeptical about this since you don’t have the “required” credentials. If that’s the case, this episode brings you good news.

Today, Joan Melendez Misner elaborates on how her career progressed until she finally got her dream job at NASA after 13 failed attempts. With a chemical engineering background, she explains the many other roles available at NASA and its subcontractors that don’t require you to be a rocket scientist to work on space exploration. In addition, she lays out the steps you can take to change career paths and get into the space sector, or any other sector, regardless of your degree.

As a hispanic woman engineer in the US, Joan knows how difficult it can be to pursue your passion and succeed. Therefore, she aims to be the person young girls interested in STEM can identify with and look up to in order to help them navigate this male-dominated field. And overall, she wants to encourage people in general to pursue a career in STEM by “humanizing” the field.

Joan Melendez Misner (@yourfemaleengineer), a native of Orlando, FL., is a Mission Integration Systems Engineer at NASA for the Launch Services Program working on management of space and aeronautical flight systems for all non-crewed and scientific missions. Her missions include the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), Europa Clipper, GOES-U and the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP).

As a first-generation college graduate, she strives to increase representation in underrepresented communities, as well as encourage them to pursue STEM careers through social media and nonprofits.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

  • Her Work Experience in the Aviation Industry―And How It Helps Her at NASA
  • How NASA Socials Allowed Her to Network With and Learn From NASA Engineers
  • How She Managed to Get Her Job at NASA After 13 Failed Attempts
  • What She Did After Each Rejection That Allowed Her to Succeed Later on
  • Pandemic-Related Challenges She Faced Right After Joining NASA
  • Joan's Past and Current Missions at NASA
  • One of Her Life Principles: “Network to get work”
  • Do You Need to Be a Rocket Scientist to Work at NASA?
  • Roles Available at NASA and its Subcontractors You Didn’t Know You Could Get
  • How She Uses Her Chemical Engineering Background at NASA
  • Your Degree Doesn’t Define You. You Willingness to Learn Does.
  • How You Can Switch Career Paths if You Want to―Regardless of Your Degree
  • Why Do Countries Spend Billions of Dollars to Send Things into Space?
  • The Unnoticed Benefits Society Gets From the Space Sector
  • Her All-Time Favorite Moments and Tasks as a NASA Engineer
  • Her Struggles as a Hispanic Woman Engineer
  • Why She Started Her Highly Successful Instagram Page With 40k+ Followers
  • Her Top Two Tips on How to Pursue a Career in STEM―And Succeed

Resources Mentioned:

Connect With Joan:

Twitter (@YourFemaleEng)
Instagram (@yourfemaleengineer)

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