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Leslye Boyce

picture of Leslye Boyce
I work with the flight computers on Hubble Space Telescope. I am responsible for the planning and managing the new computer programs as well as modifications to the existing ones. It is a big job. The computers that are on the telescope are almost 20 years old and we have to make changes to keep them working at their best. The computer technology of today is remarkably faster and more reliable than of the past. NASA is taking advantage of that with a new computer for Hubble, specially designed for the harsh environment of space. I work with the people building the computer and the people writing the programs to run on it. Together as a team, we will build and install a new flight computer in 1999.

I am schooled in Electrical Engineering and have my Bachelor of Science from the University of Houston. I have always enjoyed a tough challenge; something I wasn't sure I could do. When I chose engineering, I did so because it offered me that challenge. I wasn't sure I would be able to make the grades, as I had not even taken Physics in High School. I will never forget what my first advisor said, "You better learn to swim before you jump off the boat". He did not believe in me - but I did! I really wanted to do well, so I went back and took introductory courses from a Junior college. I studied very hard and tried not to compare myself with others. When I felt I had built the ground work, I applied and was accepted at the University of Houston. Several semesters I even made the Dean's list. I guess I learned to swim. Since then, when faced with a tough challenge, inside I know I can achieve anything I put my mind to.

The best thing about my job is that I get to work with NASA and satellites. The excitement that I experienced when we successfully completed the Hubble Repair Mission is not describable in words. In a way it was like earning my degree; I was not sure we would be able to do it; it was a tough challenge! In my job I am able to turn my ideas into reality. This happens so often at NASA and in my job that I forget it does not happen that way everywhere.

The budget crisis that the Nation faces has impacted NASA. The worst thing about my job is that we are constantly worrying about money. Personally, I think NASA has so much to offer; there are so many discoveries to be made. When money is such an issue, NASA becomes a maintenance organization of the existing technology and spacecraft. NASA is the pioneer of the Nation, we have enabled so much new technology. It breaks my heart to see a new and exciting project that employs a new technology cut because the funds are not available or to see us maintain 1970 computers and programs because we don't have the funds to replace them.

I believe that it is a myth that if you don't "prepare" you can't be a member of the NASA team. I am proof that it is not so. As a child, I loved the Arts much more than science. Recent studies have shown that the study of music actually assists young children in logical brain development. I would recommend that you follow your heart; that you do passionately that which you enjoy. That you remain willing to explore even those things which you don't because you may change your mind. I like to think it is like tasting something new; you may be convinced that you will hate it - but when you give it a try - WOW it is great!

The NASA of tomorrow will provide an opportunity for the participation of every field (Arts, Math and Science).

My dad trained astronauts at Johnson Space Flight Center. When Apollo 10 circled the moon in 1969, Tom Stafford carried my dad's college ring with him. I was 10 years old and I thought that was neat! To travel so many miles away, to see the earth from such a different perspective and to be a modern day Christopher Columbus. Now that was a challenge! My dad knew these "super heroes" and trained them. That was even cooler! My dad later told me that he was inspired by Buck Rogers who was a super hero of comic strips in the 1940's. He would sit and draw rocket ships and dream of going into space...

Now that I am grown, my kids really inspire me. They are so curious and love to talk about space. Today's kids don't watch Buck Rogers, they watch Star Trek - what a difference. We have come a long way in 50 years. When the Hubble astronauts came to Goddard Space Flight Center, I made sure my kids got to meet them. They were surprised that they were just ordinary people.

I have really got the best of both worlds; an exciting job and a great family. I have three small children 7,5 and 2 years old. I split my time between my job and my family. After school, we get the homework done as soon as possible, then we ride bikes, bake, do art projects or explore new things! One of our favorite things to do is lay and watch the stars. My husband knows many of the constellations and we try to find them. Sometimes we make up our own and tell stories about the people and animals.

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