Alice Bowman says she always wanted a career that was exciting, technically challenging "and not the same day in and day out."
She certainly found it. Whether it was the hard courses in school or the most puzzling technical challenges at work, Bowman has never shied away from the tougher path - but used these challenges to learn and gain new experience. Eventually, this led to the opportunity of a lifetime: leading the mission operations team that made history by "flying" the first spacecraft to Pluto.
Bowman, the New Horizons mission operations manager, covers her career voyage through the scope of NASA´s historic first mission to Pluto - which culminated with a flyby of the distant dwarf planet on July 14, 2015. Starting with her childhood passion of absorbing and following space news, she carried her love of science and technology through college and into an early career that included research on drug-delivery systems, crafting computer simulations and working with infrared detectors that peered into the deepest reaches of outer space. Those were among the experiences that prepared her for the challenges of New Horizons: operating a small robotic spacecraft that had to travel farther than any mission ever to reach its main target; planning for (and dealing with) long-distance technical hiccups; and keeping a team focused over a decade-long operation across the solar system. Her advice to the next generation of scientists and engineers includes: choose a career that you have passion for; dont pass up an opportunity because it?s outside of your comfort zone; explore and learn about different things; know that hard work pays off; and don?t be limited by your dreams.
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