Technology

Women’s History Month: Meet Sarah Mann

In honor of Women’s History Month, we recently sat down with Sarah Mann, public affairs specialist and member of the Women’s Networking Group (WNG) at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, to learn more about her role and working at NASA.

What do you do at NASA and how do you help support Armstrong’s mission?

I get to tell the story about the exciting developments that happen with various programs and projects happening at NASA’s primary center for high-risk, atmospheric flight research. In writing for web and social, working with media, my job informs the public on the status and successes of programs and projects.

Why did you choose to work at NASA and how long have you worked here?

Who wouldn’t want to work for NASA?! I have been working for NASA for just over three years – and I have loved every minute! Growing up in “Aerospace Valley” it feels natural to work for NASA, and especially at Armstrong, where NASA develops the most cutting-edge technology for the first “A” in NASA.

What has been your proudest accomplishment or highlight of your career?

Before I worked for NASA, I did public relations for a local charter school that focused on STEM education; within my first week working for this school, it was decided to build a brand-new school and public outreach was a major component of the project. It was incredible to be a part of something from the very beginning; community outreach meetings to the groundbreaking ceremony, beam signing, getting the certificate of occupancy, to finally the grand opening of a brand-new school. I don’t think I will ever forget during the ribbon cutting ceremony and looking around to see so many students, families, and the community and thinking how far we had come from those initial conversations to now walking into the front door of a beautiful new school.

What is one piece of advice you’ve never forgotten?

My favorite professor in undergrad told us to keep our textbooks. Hardcover textbooks may be a thing of the past, but for me, they are still valuable reference tools, idea generators, reminders, and in some ways just a way to reminisce about the good old college days.

Do you have any advice for others like yourself who may be contemplating a career at NASA?

Network! Apply! Throughout my career, I have found that networking has been important for my career goals. Also, apply to all possible jobs – even those positions that are a little bit of a stretch for your experience. But with every interview you learn more and more and it helps prepare for future positions.

What is the most exciting aspect of your job?

It is really hard to identify just one exciting aspect of my job. Every day I get to work with the best people in their field and I get to tell the story about what they are working on to move the NASA mission forward.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Did you think you would ever work for NASA?

Growing up I really thought I was going to be a professional ballet dancer, however, physically that wasn’t going to be possible, so I had to pivot. Thinking that being a lawyer would be very cool so I could afford to have a BMWZ8 – but I really wasn’t passionate about law. While in high school I took a lot of advanced science classes (chemistry and physics) but being in a lab all day wasn’t really appealing to me either. Then my senior year of high school, I learned about public affairs, and the rest is history. Never did I think I would work for NASA, an aerospace company probably, but NASA – it was such an exciting day when I got the call being offered a position to work for NASA.

What’s the strangest tradition in your family? Or a unique family tradition?

We all sit in the same exact spots in my parents’ house on Christmas morning to open gifts. It started when we were very little and still happens today – we also take turns opening gifts.

If you could master a skill without any work, what would it be?

Being a nuclear engineer would be so cool, so all the skills that would come with that job!

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