Meet: Michael Ciannilli
Test Project Engineer
NASA Kennedy Space Center
Chat and Webcast Archives
Who I Am
Hi! My name is Mike Ciannilli and I would like to
welcome you to the Kennedy Space Center on the Internet. I appreciate
your interest in the space program and I look forward to hearing from
you and answering any questions about the Space Shuttle Program you might
I am a test project engineer at the Kennedy Space
Center. I work for the United Space Alliance which is the prime contractor
of the shuttle program. The role of the United Space Alliance is to manage
the entire Space Shuttle Program for NASA. This involves all the phases
of the program. Here at the Kennedy Space Center we process the shuttle
from landing to launch. To carry this out we have a team of thousands
of very talented scientists, engineers, and technicians. Within this team,
we are grouped into several more specialized departments.
What I Do
I began my career in the Space Shuttle Program as
a systems engineer. I was a member of the Fuel Cells Engineering Department.
More specifically I worked in the Fuel Cells Orbiter Group. In my journal
"Fuel Cells - A Day in the Life,"
you can learn more about what fuel cells is all about.
I am working as a test project engineer. You can learn more about my responsibilities
in this group by taking a look at my journal "TPE:
A New Focus." The basic difference between these two positions is
that of focus. In fuel cells, I concentrated on one particular orbiter
system. In Test Project Engineering, also known as Integration, I focus
more broadly on all of the Orbiter systems along with the full compliment
of systems on the external tank and solid rocket boosters. I guess you
could say I went from a "nuts and bolts" type of guy to a "big picture"
My Career Journey
Heading to the Cape
After graduating from college, I hoped to finally
realize my lifelong goal. However, sometimes life doesn't exactly go the
way you plan. Just prior to getting out of school, NASA was placed under
a hiring freeze that ended up lasting over 5 1/2 years. During that time
I took positions that I felt would improve and add to my engineering skills.
Life can be frustrating and various turns can take you on the long way
to where you want to go sometimes. However, never stop believing in your
dreams and you will get to where you want to go. For me, my elusive dream
finally did come true.
The Early Years
I grew up in a town called Brewerton, just outside
of Syracuse in Upstate New York. Summers were spent on the lake and winters
were spent in the snow, lots of snow!
My dream has always been to become a part of America's
space program. To be honest, I don't know how my interest in it started,
but I do remember running home from playing up the street to watch the
latest launch when I was five years old. Since then my life has been focused
in the direction of the space program. The next twelve years were spent
entering science fairs, majoring in math and science in high school, and
learning all I could about the Space Shuttle Program.
The College Years
Convinced of my goal, I majored in Space Science at
the Florida Institute Of Technology (F. I. T.) in Melbourne, Florida.
To gain working experience while at F. I. T., I participated in an internship
program with Pan Am World Services at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
I learned many valuable things about the "real world" of engineering that
has helped me a lot in my career.
At F.I.T. I also participated in several extracurricular
activities and organizations. I held leadership roles in several organizations,
including two terms as president of the American Institute of Aeronautics
and Astronautics at FIT. These activities provided me with a great deal
of invaluable experience in many areas.
When I am not at the Cape, I like to spend time with
my family (I am fortunate to have a great mom, dad and sister) and do
some sports like tennis, swimming and boating. However, when the sun is
shining bright and the waves are breaking just right, I'll probably be
heading to the beach to go surfing.
Likes About Career
Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that I am actually
working on the Launch Team for the Space Shuttle. IT IS AWESOME!! Everyday
is different and presents new challenges.
We are constantly getting the stars of the show: Columbia,
Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour ready for launch. And the launch itself,
well ...... that's an experience that is just too incredible to put into
I would recommend to you, no matter what career you
choose, to participate in some form of internship program. It will be
worth a lot more than you may think. Find activities outside of your schoolwork
that you have an interest in, and participate. Social clubs, organizations
and sports are all great ideas.
Archived Chats and
25 , 2004 -- National Engineers Week Chat
13, 2002 -- Chat
23, 2002 -- ISS A Home in Microgravity
-- Station Update webcast
10, 2002 -- ISS
A Home in Microgravity -- Station Update webcast
20, 2001 -- ISS
A Home in Microgravity -- Station Update webcast
11, 2000 -- STS-92 Launch Webcast
9, 2000 -- Chat
15, 1999 -- Chat
1999 through June 2000 -- Landing to Launch Webcast Series
20 & May
27, 1999 -- And
now . . . from the launch of STS-96 webcast
11, 1999 -- Chat
6, 1999 -- Chat
29, 1998 -- And now . . . from the launch of STS-95 webcast
6, 1997 -- Chat
7, 1997 -- Chat