Inspiring Scientist—Kevin Gilliland
As long as I can remember, my father, and grandfather were engineers. As a boy, I was amazed at how much they knew! They seemed to be able to build or fix anything. Inheriting some of their interests and a few of their abilities, I pursued the same career.
Learning to do work on an operations team, in the beginning, was easy enough. After all, I had a solid formal education and family tradition behind me. The missions I had a small part in were successful, and I had some sense of being part of an historic event. I was frustrated, though, at how often a deadline would keep me from working a task to a perfect solution. I also found myself, frequently, getting stuck in a routine job that didn’t seem very important. While successes and celebrations were fun, failures were devastating.
As a boy, my grandfather knew, and had always known, everything. Since then, of course, I’ve learned how much work he put in to learning. I’ve seen how my dad has worked through mistakes and failure to an impressive result. Most of all, I’ve seen how patiently they have worked. They have inspired me to continually work at learning more. They have inspired me to keep working at a solution, in spite of mistakes along the way.With more experience, I now know how important each task is in determining a mission’s success or failure. I now know, while the foundation of a formal education is important, how important it is to keep learning to truly work effectively. While deadlines are a reality, I’ve learned that patient, hard work leads to an excellent result, completed in the time allowed. The job that seems dull may be the best opportunity to learn the detail that is key, perhaps, to engineering the perfect landing.
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