For the past three and a half years, I have called NASA home. I started here in 2010, as an intern in the Outreach Program in the Space Operations Mission Directorate. Beth Beck, my manager, gave me a whirlwind tour of how things work in the headquarters of biggest space agency in the world, then gave me a laptop and sent me forward with a simple mandate: make something awesome.
Little did I know at the time that I was about to embark on an adventure that would be, in all sense of the phrase, an out of this world experience. Since coming to NASA, I’ve had the opportunity to work with countless brilliantly talented people, contribute to projects that are paving the future for exploration of the universe, and have more life-changing experiences than I can count. Along the way, I’ve had a cadre of amazing mentors and teachers who have given me more than I could ever give back.
All of which, of course, makes saying goodbye that much harder.
Today marks my last day of working at the place that was a distant dream just a few years ago. Although I’ll miss this place terribly, I look forward to see how many of the projects I’ve been fortunate enough to work on continue to grow and prosper. Initiatives like LAUNCH and the International Space Apps Challenge are stronger now than ever before, and it seems like every day more and more people are reaching out to us to find out how they can participate in mass collaborations around the agency’s data and open source code.
The work, however, is not over. I’ve been scrambling before my departure to integrate one of the solutions from a Challenge I wrote for the Space Apps Challenge (spacehub) on to code.nasa.gov, and due to some incredible last-minute help from one of its developers I’m hopeful I’ll be able to deploy it today before NASA IT yanks my server access. I’m also in the middle of a redesign of open.nasa.gov, the code of which is now on GitHub so that its development can be continued in the open. Beyond that, work continues to help make NASA’s data more open and accessible. The recent Open Data Executive Order empowers the agency to continue to be a leader in this area, and I know others on this blog will continue to think of new exciting ways to involve the public in helping shape the future of space exploration.
I am incredibly appreciative to the group of people who I’ve had as my “NASA Family” over the past few years. I’m terrible with words, but I hope they each know just how grateful I am for their incredible leadership, teachings, and genuine interest in helping me achieve my dreams. Leaving NASA was not an easy decision in the slightest, but I am excited to see where the world takes me in the future. I’m sure at some point I’ll be scanning my badge once again below the giant meatball.
Until then, I leave with one of my favorite quotes. A wise snippet of wisdom (purportedly) given by Alan Shepard, the first American in Space:
“It’s a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one’s safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.”