Tiffaney Miller Alexander
As a young girl, my mother was always an inspiration for me. One of the things about her that inspired me the most was that despite the fact that both of her parents never had a formal public school education and could not read or write, she completed her public school education and went beyond this to become the first in her family to obtain a college degree. Also, at the age of 10, seeing my mother battle and overcome colon cancer was a great example of her determination, resilience and faith. This proved to me that despite your circumstances, with the right perspective, attitude, hard work and focus, you can fulfill your purpose.
My mother became an educator, and because of the knowledge she gained, she made sure my sister and I realized the importance and benefits of a good education. She gave me the tools I needed to help me keep my focus, learn and grow into the best student I could be.
As a student in school, I always enjoyed math and science and was intrigued with the desire to know how things worked. As a child, I would often take small electronic devices apart to see how they worked. I would dismantle some of the parts and try to correctly put them back together again. This was fascinating to me!
By the time I was in the sixth grade, I knew I wanted to be an electrical engineer. After exploring the engineering industry for some time, I was amazed by the things I would see on television and read in books about NASA. NASA became the place I wanted to work once I graduated from college. It became my dream job!
A month prior to graduating with my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, I interviewed and was offered a position as a payload electrical systems engineer with The Boeing Company at the Kennedy Space Center. I began working for Boeing in June of 1999, later earning my Master of Science in industrial engineering. I worked with various types of payload ground support equipment (GSE) for the International Space Station. In this job, I developed procedures, edited schematics, supported payload testing, led multi-element integrated testing and trained other engineers in the use of various electrical GSE.
During my eight years with The Boeing Company, I became my team’s lead power quality (PQ) engineer, guiding the effort to develop a more effective and efficient method of taking impedance frequency response measurements for PQ payload testing. Previously, these measurements were taken using series voltage injection versus parallel voltage injection. The new implemented method allowed PQ impedance measurements to be taken within a one-hour time frame, improving the previous time frame of eight hours. The new method also allowed measurements to be taken while payloads were energized, thus avoiding complete de-energizing of the integrated payload configuration. This saved Boeing many hours of labor, energy and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, which ultimately saved money for NASA. This, among other opportunities, gave me the ability to grow and learn in my career development. In 2002, it also granted me the honor of becoming the youngest and first woman to be a top-ten finalist for the Boeing Florida Space Coast Operations Engineer of the Year award.
During my time working at KSC, my husband and I served eight years as youth pastors for a church in our community. I was honored to lead the Young Ladies Ministry program which encouraged and taught 6- to 18-year-old girls within the church and community. As program coordinator, the team and I sought to build their confidence, teach them life lessons and principles, and encourage them to work hard in school, reach for their dreams and strive to be the best they could be. One of my greatest joys was seeing one of the girls participate in the NASA Science, Engineering, Communication, Mathematics, and Enrichment Program. She became a finalist in one of the annual Olympiad competitions.
After working with Boeing, I was afforded the opportunity to work directly for NASA as a civil servant, accepting a position as a quality engineer (QE) for the Safety and Mission Assurance (S&MA) Launch Vehicle Processing (LVP) Division. I enjoyed working with the Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) contractor, learning about the shuttle’s main engines and serving as the primary QE for the PWR Engine Shop. It was fascinating to learn about the main engines and the great team that put them together. I also was given the opportunity to be the lead coordinator for the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel’s 2009 KSC visit and later, to become a mission assurance manager (MAM) within the LVP S&MA Division. In this role, I was afforded the opportunity and honor to be the mission assurance manager for the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program, STS-135. STS-135 launched on July 8, 2011, with a near flawless mission. It was indeed an honor to be a part of this historical event. With the ending of the Shuttle Program, I have transitioned into the role of S&MA Operations Processing Division Transition and Retirement Project manager for all of the vehicles as they are decommissioned and delivered to their final display sites.
I have been blessed to have great managers and leaders and opportunities to grow while doing what I love. I am honored and privileged to come to my dream job every day to see and experience the awesome things we do here at KSC. I am married to an amazing husband and have two wonderful children who love learning about what I do.
My hope is that our younger generation, especially young women, are encouraged and inspired to pursue a career in science or math, and perhaps, even to desire to work for NASA some day. I encourage every young woman to take advantage of all opportunities for growth and learning in something they are intrigued and passionate about, to read as much as they can, and never allow obstacles or people to limit them and the potential within them. As one leader said, “find something that you love to do and do it so well that people don’t mind paying you for it.” Small opportunities can lead to greater doors of opportunity; therefore, seek mentors who inspire, encourage and guide you along your journey. Find someone who is already doing and living the dream that you have and talk with them, learn their story of how they got there. Never stop seeking to grow and develop, and you will go far!
Tiffaney Miller Alexander knew by the time she was in sixth grade that she wanted to become an electrical engineer. Sparked by her interest to know how electronic devices worked coupled with the inspiration of her mother becoming the first in her family to earn a college degree, overcome a battle with cancer, and her faith in God, Tiffaney believed she had a great motivational example of determination and resilience to help her along her career journey. After exploring the engineering industry and learning more about NASA, it soon became her dream job. In 1999, she was hired as a space station payloads electrical systems engineer for The Boeing Company at the Kennedy Space Center. She later served as the power quality systems lead, and in 2002, she became the youngest and first woman to be a top-10 finalist for the Boeing Florida Space Coast Operations Engineer of the Year Award. In 2007, Alexander became a NASA civil servant in the Safety and Mission Assurance (S&MA) Directorate as a quality engineer, and later, a mission assurance manager for the final shuttle mission, STS-135. Upon the Shuttle Program’s retirement, she currently serves as the S&MA Transition and Retirement Project manager for all of the vehicles as they are decommissioned and delivered to their final display sites. Alexander attributes her fuel for motivation from her faith, inspiring mother, supportive family, great leaders, managers, and mentors who have helped her along the way. Alexander holds a Bachelor’s in electrical engineering and a Master’s in industrial engineering from the University of Central Florida. She is actively involved in her local church and serves along with her husband as college and career pastors. She enjoys spending time with her amazing husband and their two beautiful children.