SIRTF Profiles: Betsy Wilson
I'm an engineer. Not the kind that builds "things," but the kind that builds information. Engineers make the spacecraft and information systems that get scientists the data they want. I like being an engineer because my job is never boring, and I've been doing this for 26 years.
When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a biologist. Biology is still fascinating to me and I like to read about it. I don't think, just like space, that we'll ever "know it all." But when I was in college, I realized that although I found it interesting, it was not the right career for me. I got B's and C's in my biology classes, and I wasn't good at laboratory work, although I enjoyed it anyway. But one semester I took a computer class, just because everyone said computers were "the next big thing." It was very
interesting and I got an A+, easily. So I took another class, and got another A. By then it was starting to dawn on me that I liked computer work, and obviously was better at it than biology. So I switched my studies over.
My first full-time job was here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in the same area I am in now - telemetry processing. Telemetry is all the information that is sent back to earth from a spacecraft by the radio transmitter. The better I do my job, the better and more data the scientists get. I like that because I feel I'm doing something important. I enjoy learning more about astronomy as I work here, and I know that my hard word helps the scientists. When I go jogging in the early morning and look up at the planets shining in the sky (and I try to keep track of where they are), I think "There's one of my spacecraft, orbiting around that planet!", and feel good.