Math is a subject that a lot of people don’t really like, but if you are an engineer, it is something that you must live with every single day. As an engineer, math should be something that you are really good at!
But one young Filipina woman who used to struggle in math while in school, eventually found her calling as engineer at NASA! Wow. How did she even do that?
Josephine Santiago-Bond had a rather practical dream back when she was a kid.
“As a child, I always knew I would go to college, get a job, try to earn enough to afford the things I need and want, but I had not envisioned a particular profession,” she told SPOT.ph.
Born to a family of scientists who “were doctors of some sort”, as she described, Josephine wasn’t really keen on following their footsteps. Her parents and later her elder sisters all held PhDs, yet she didn’t really have any profession in mind, especially because she struggled with math.
She attended the Philippine Science High School but was stumped by the subjects, especially because the school requires students to take more science and math subjects compared with regular schools.
Surprisingly, though she had no intention of becoming an engineer, an older schoolmate was able to convince her to take up Electronics and Communications Engineering at the University of the Philippines. However, just as she had expected, she had a difficult time in school as she struggled with the math subjects.
“I had to crawl my way through some of the courses, but I wasn’t going to give up on [Electronics and Communications Engineering] because of a few bad grades,” she admitted. Somehow, she managed to pass the 5-year course.
She might not fully love the course but she would take up Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from South Dakota State University after moving to the US. Her graduate adviser told her about students having the option to undergo internship at the John F. Kennedy Space Center (K.S.C.) for the summer.
She took the challenge – and the rest, as they say, was history. The short summer stint that year, 2003, had so much impact on her that by 2005 she was already working full-time at the space center! It was certainly a big leap from someone who had no idea about space shuttles.
“I had zero knowledge about space shuttles, and did not even know that there was an International Space Station orbiting above us. I was just happy to take a break from South Dakota,” she revealed.
“I see myself like Dorothy Vaughan who, upon learning of the installation of electronic computers, taught herself programming and trained her co-workers. I proactively look for gaps that I can fill, I am responsible for continuing my professional development, and try to elevate others around me through mentorship.”
Today, Josephine is the chief of the Advanced Engineering Development Branch and is responsible for “[supplying] engineering support to research and technology development projects at Kennedy Space Center.”
Image credits: SPOT.ph