As a senior in high school, I took a physics class. I loved the challenge of figuring things out, and I loved how math could be used to predict where a ball would land as it rolled off of a table. My teacher was amazing and helped keep my interest by making the subject so fascinating. But, I also loved playing the piano and was considering becoming a concert pianist. After much soul searching, I decided to have piano as my creative outlet and pursue physics for my career. I definitely made the right choice! I went to college and majored in physics. I then went on to get my Master’s degree in Physics and Ph.D in Electrical Engineering. Today, I work as an engineer at NASA Glenn Research Center in the Space Flight Systems Directorate, where I am a project manager for Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP). I love working at NASA.
In the 21 years I have been with NASA, I not only fulfilled that ambition but also contributed significantly to the future of aeronautics and space exploration. I also believe I helped inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists. The whole environment at NASA has pushed me toward my goals. Everyone is so intellectual, innovative, and helpful. There are so many opportunities, and people I work with every day inspire me and push me to try new things and ideas.
I have done everything from working in a lab to managing large flight projects. At one point in my career, I was the engineer that flight tested newly developed sensors on NASA aircraft. That was a lot of fun, and I have to admit, coming to work in a flight suit was pretty cool.
In 2001, I moved into project management and started working with NASA’s Space Exploration Program. To this end, I worked on vehicle health management, propulsion, the Ares I-X flight test, the Integrated Vehicle Ground Vibration Test, and my current position as the Solar Electric Propulsion project manager at NASA Glenn. It’s a privilege to be part of such a diverse workforce integrating complex components for a flight or ground test.
I really want to be part of the next generation of technology we develop for space exploration. I have never ceased to be thoroughly excited about what I do in my job. Along the way, I have learned from NASA’s earlier generation, the Apollo engineers, technicians, and astronauts. They’re very inspiring as they were pioneers, and we have all benefited from their experience.
Dr. Margaret Nazario began her journey into engineering when she was a senior in high school taking physics. While her love of inventing and problem solving provided an architectural roadmap for her future, it was the encouragement and guidance of the teachers who recognized her special talents that put her life on a trajectory that would land her at NASA, where she continues to be inspired and challenged to reach even greater heights. Dr. Nazario currently works on future in-space propulsion that can be used for human-based Mars missions. During her years at NASA, she has also supported the development and delivery of flight hardware and ground support equipment for the Ares I-X flight test and Integrated Vehicle Ground Vibration Test. Dr. Nazario recognizes that each generation inspires the next, citing the Apollo engineers, technicians, and astronauts as a tremendous influence and source of information for her. She is motivated to be part of future technology and in doing her part to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists. She participates in Mentornet (an online mentoring program), Women in Engineering at the University of Akron, and the Engineer for a Day Program sponsored by Cleveland State University. Dr. Nazario holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Physics from John Carroll University and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Akron.