Two JSC engineers profiled in Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers magazine

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) magazine profiled 14 Latina engineers working in government agencies nationwide in its spring 2010 edition. Two of the 14, Johanna Pineiro and Jessica Padilla, are JSC team members.

“SHPE is committed to advancing the potential of Hispanics in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” said Manuel Hernández, SHPE national president. “As the Society's voice, SHPE magazine promotes awareness of job opportunities as well as the contributions of Hispanics in various STEM fields. Johanna and Jessica are recent hires, yet they are already addressing critical aspects of NASA JSC's mission. Their technical expertise and dedication to excellence makes them worthy role models to those who follow.”

Johanna Pineiro

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Pineiro stands next to two of the spacesuits in the EMU lab.
Pineiro joined the JSC team in January 2006 as a co-op student, but in June 2009 became full-time in the Spacesuit and Crew Survival Systems Branch (EC5) in the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) group. Within this group, she trained to become subsystem manager of the spacesuit, learning the various components of the EMU and providing mission support during extravehicular activities (EVAs). She was also involved in building two different diagnostic tools that will be used for sustaining the EMU after the shuttle retires in 2010.

Pineiro is currently in EC5 but transitioned to the Technology Development Group. In this group she designs, fabricates and tests a temperature control valve that will be used in the Portable Air Backpack and is also building a schematic to test CO2 sensors for calibration.

Finding out that she was chosen as a profile subject for the SHPE story was “very exciting.”

“I called my mother and she was just speechless and said, ‘you see your hard work does not go unnoticed,’” Pineiro said. “I felt very pleased but at the same time nervous because I was going to be spotlighted to the public.”

Since the 6th grade, Pineiro wanted to be an astronaut. In high school, she completed three internships, two at Goddard Space flight center and one jointly with Georgia Tech and Marshall Space Flight Center. At that point, she decided to major in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech. In January 2006, Pineiro became a JSC co-op student where she was able to tour in Mission Operations Directorate and Engineering.

“I decided that EC5, the Spacesuit and Crew Survival Systems branch, was the place for me,” Pineiro said. “NASA was always my dream job. JSC was the place I wanted to work for, since it’s the one that deals with human space flight, and working in the Spacesuit is very exciting and rewarding.”

She said it is very motivating to work with such “intelligent and successful people” who encourage her to “strive and work harder” every day.

“JSC is the only place I would imagine myself ever working, and it has become my second home,” Pineiro said.

Jessica Padilla

Padilla stands among a few pieces of hardware, a new design of the existing Cargo Transfer Bag, and the foam tray (a sub-assembly of the ISS toolbox on orbit).
Padilla stands among a few pieces of hardware, a new design of the existing Cargo Transfer Bag, and the foam tray (a sub-assembly of the ISS toolbox on orbit).
Padilla is the project manager for the Intravehicular Activity (IVA)/Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Tools and Equipment Branch. She is responsible for managing multiple IVA/EVA projects, such as designing, building, certifying and delivering safe and reliable IVA/EVA tools and equipment, as well as “sustaining such hardware to support maintenance and contingency tasks for the International Space Station and Shuttle Program.”

“Projects I’m responsible for involves working with industry suppliers to improve designs and develop optimized tools to interface with both current and planned space hardware,” Padilla said.

Throughout her college and professional career, Padilla has been involved in engineering societies that promote Hispanic engineers. SHPE and Mexican American Engineers and Scientist (MAES) are dedicated organizations for the Hispanic engineering community that provide workshops and leadership conferences to aid the growth of the student and professional.

“Based on the heritage of pride, and the support that organizations like SHPE and MAES provide for all Hispanics, from a young age I knew I wanted to become involved with their organizations as soon as possible,” Padilla said. “I wanted to help continue to enhance that same pride and support that other strong Hispanics before me created, so that future Hispanic leaders could enjoy the benefits of these great organizations as I have.”

Once part of the SHPE organization, Padilla was one of the many members asked to be interviewed to show who SHPE has helped to succeed. Padilla “gladly accepted this request with the hopes that it could possibly help others as they become more involved.”

“It was a great honor to be selected as one of the profiles in SHPE’s ‘Latina’s in Government’ issue,” Padilla said. “The interview was a great opportunity to express how much I enjoy working as a government employee, especially here at NASA JSC.”

Padilla said the knowledge she gained from the engineering and certification aspect of projects will help her in pursuing her future goals at NASA, which include venturing into the ISS Program Office and manage projects on a broader level.

“This would allow me to interface with multiple Programs and International Partners around the world to further utilize my communication and leadership skills,” Padilla said.

Neesha Hosein
Johnson Space Center, Houston

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