Feature Stories

Young Alum Works as an Aerospace Engineer at NASA

After graduating in 2005 with a degree in mechanical engineering, Corina Koca started work as an aerospace engineer for NASA.

She works for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt Maryland, in the electro-mechanical systems division.  Currently she's helping to design and develop the James Webb Space Telescope, which NASA expects to launch in this decade.  Like the Hubble, the Webb Telescope will orbit space, take images of the cosmos for astronomical observations.  

Corina is working on the optical simulator for the Webb telescope, which requires a sophisticated calibration system. The telescope has many intricate components, she says, and as a mechanical engineer she focuses on designing its moving parts.  

It’s a great job and she got it when she was a senior at NJIT.  As a student, she belonged so the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), which runs a yearly career fair for students.  She and other NSBE members attended that career fair. NASA recruiters had a booth at the fair and Corina interviewed with them. They offered her a great job – aerospace engineer -- and she took it.  She’s been there ever since – happily.  She’s 27 and was recently married.  Her maiden name is Guishard.

At the time of her interview, Corina had much to offer NASA. At NJIT, she belonged to the Albert Dorman Honors College and during her senior year the Newark College of Engineering named her a Madame Mau Distinguished Scholar.  She belonged to the NJIT Senate and played soccer for the NJIT Women’s Team.  She is currently taking classes to learn Turkish.

She enjoys working for NASA, she says, because the agency works on so many important national projects.  Many people wrongly perceive that NASA only launches rockets, she adds.  But the agency also has earth and planetary scientists, heliophysicists and astrophysicists who study global warming and other environmental science, the solar systems, the sun, how the planet was formed and how it interacts with the rest of the solar system, etc...  There is a multitude of technology that NASA has created that is being used in our everyday lives; For example, without NASA we would not have GPS in our cars or the accu-weather forecasts that give us weekly weather reports, she says.  NASA scientists also track global climate change.  

“I’m optimistic about the future of the U.S. space program,” Corina says.  “The Webb Telescope I’m working on is expected to launch in 2014 and give us amazing images of the universe.  And NASA has many projects that will continue to further America’s high technology.  I think the future of NASA is bright.”

(By Robert Florida, Office of Strategic Communications)