NASA Celebrates National Engineers Week: Perspectives from Jamesa Stokes - Nasa daily picture for February 21 (2023)

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Young, black woman with safety glasses, dressed in t-shirt, jeans, and purple fuzzy sweater with purple gloves, faces camera while standing in laboratory

Jamesa Stokes' path to being an engineer at NASA started out on a completely different road.

While she loved and excelled at math and science, she was also passionate about studio art, her first major in college.  But knowing that science can also be a creative pursuit, she switched to physics and embarked on a journey to NASA when she reached grad school.

Stokes, who received her bachelor’s degree in Physics from Auburn University and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University, was awarded a graduate fellowship to conduct research at NASA Glenn.  She later became a NASA intern and converted to a full-time Materials Research Engineer when she finished her Ph.D.

“Working at NASA means tackling the bigger problems we face for the benefit of society,” said Stokes.  “My job is to develop and understand how advanced materials behave in the extreme environments of space. It will help protect not only the lives of astronauts but also flight vehicles.”

Are you considering a STEM career?  Stokes says there are many ways to reach your goal.

“There is no required path to becoming a scientist or engineer nor is there one way a scientist or engineer is supposed to act or look,” she said.  “Never let anyone discourage you from pursuing what you like and remember that you can always be more than whatever societal conventions envision your future to be. Participate in STEM clubs and activities to figure out what makes you passionate about science and engineering.”

Image Description: Engineer Jamesa Stokes works in a special laboratory testing advanced materials to see how they behave in extreme space environments. Credits: Jef Janis, NASA Glenn Research Center



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