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Meet: Roger Arno

photo of Roger Arno
NASA Ames Research Center


Who I Am and What I Do
Space and aircraft mission analysis, engineering design and cost analyses, design tradeoffs, program planning, project management, technical paper preparation, proposal preparation, graphics generation, 3D animation.

Areas of expertise
Knowledge of engineering mechanics, physics, chemistry, costing, statistics, life sciences, management. Knowledge of engineering and management tools (computers, internet, word processing, Excel, Powerpoint, Word, Photoshop, etc.).

How I first became interested in this profession
I had an early interest in space, aircraft, technology, cars, movies, and movie making.

What helped prepare me for this job
An engineering education with an eagerness to learn on the job (as with programming, systems engineering, project management, teamwork, procurement and contracting, materials, government regulations and specifications, word processing, computer analysis tools, computer graphics and animation, and manufacturing processes).

Role Models
My father, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Wright Brothers, Werner Von Braun, Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick (2001), Bertrand Russell, M.C. Escher, a select few Sci-Fi writers, the people at Dreamworks, Pixar, and ILM, Renoir, Monet, Dali, Hildebrandt Brothers, Chesley Bonestell Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac, some great co-workers, excellent physics and chemistry teachers at Glendale City College.

My education and training

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering (BSME),
  • Master’s Degree in Engineering Mechanics from Santa Clara University,
    plus additional courses in engineering, economics, etc., and on-the-job training.
Career path
Summer jobs at Lockheed (thanks to the fact that my dad worked there), engineering degree, drafting board at FMC, NASA, NASA retired, NASA consultant.

What I like about my job
Working with new mission concepts and learning about space and space technology

What I don't like about my job
The interminable amount of time (2-10 years, or more) it takes to go from a mission concept to flight. Changing priorities, changing budgets, and the huge number of documents it takes to build a spacecraft. Working for years on a mission only to have it cancelled.

My advice to anyone interested in this occupation
There is still a lot of interesting work to do, and many exciting missions to be flown.  However, be realistic about the mundane work involved. And don’t expect to save the world.


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