Q1: As a student, what attracted you to JPL?
A: I had heard of JPL when I was still in high school in Lebanon and thought it would be a life dream to join the people who are the forefront of exploring space. So when I came to Caltech for my graduate study, I applied to work at JPL for the summer, then I became a part-time academic. After my PhD, I joined JPL full-time and I am still here 37 years later and enjoy every minute of it.Q2: What are the three most important pieces of advice you would give to a student who is interested in starting their career at JPL?
A: You need to have three things to enjoy working at JPL:
- passion for exploration,
- love to work with teams to achieve what others consider impossible,
- be prepared to work hard and have fun because once you start on a project you and your team are committing to see it through to the end.
Q3: Having started as an APT here, what factors helped you make a successful transition from a student to a full-time employee?
A: My colleagues and supervisors were critical to my success at the lab. I did not hesitate to go and ask questions or solicit help, and everyone went out of their way to help and advise me. This is a very valued aspect of the JPL culture. Anything can be asked or questioned, no matter what your pay grade. That's because good ideas can come from anywhere, and it's possible that any idea, no matter how simple or crazy, can open new avenues to new and better ways.
Q4: Now as an established employee, what do you see as the value of having Student Employees at JPL?
A: The Student Employees are the "future" of JPL and any organization that does not nurture its "future" will fade away. Many of us started as students or young employees, and we were highly valued by the veterans of the lab. I consider Student Employees to be among the lab’s most important and valued staff members. They are often the source of many new ideas because nothing seems impossible to them, and that's right in line with our line of work. We are in the business of making the impossible possible.