George Gorospe

University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM

Mechanical Engineering

Principal Investigator: Dr. Brad Bailey

Education and Experience:

As a young boy I was naturally curious about mechanical systems, my fifth grade report was on “the modern internal combustion engine.” I loved the way the individual parts of an engine, when working in harmony, could produce significant quantities of horsepower. It was during this time that I believed that I would become a mechanic and work to fix cars for people. I worked hard and during high school I had the opportunity to meet a group of engineers from Sandia National Laboratories. I learned from them that engineers not only fix that which is broken but they create new devices and systems to solve problems. I was immediately interested in the notion of engineering a solution to problems. Furthermore, I learned that engineers get to play with the best toys: rockets, robots, lasers, jet engines, and others. Through follow up research I found that, amongst engineers, NASA engineers have the best toys that don’t usually blow themselves up. Researching not only the equipment in use but the significant problems NASA engineers had to solve to attain manned spaceflight inspired me to work for NASA.

As a young engineer, I knew that I had a deep curiosity and urge to study robotics. Robotics is truly a multidisciplinary topic. Roboticists need knowledge of mechanical design, electrical components, and advanced programming skills to fully develop a working robot. I felt that at NASA, I could work with the best robots on earth and potentially work on the next generation of robots leaving earth to explore our solar system. During my first internship with NASA at the Ames Research Center (ARC) in Moffett Field, CA I worked in the Prognostics Center of Excellence within the Intelligent Systems Division. There I was asked to study an old recycled planetary rover. I returned the rover to operational status by troubleshooting its components, researching the old software control structure and writing an entirely new software control structure. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to challenge myself by integrating mobile Ipod control and data feedback in to the system. During my second internship with NASA, also at ARC, I participated in the NASA Ames Robotics Academy. This student managed project based program aspires to create test and launch a lunar micro rover, as a component of the Lunar X Prize competition. During this program I learned actual engineering procedures and developed and ran simulated and laboratory experiments subjecting the prototype lunar micro rover to the projected vibrational loads associated with Orbital Systems’ Minotaur launch vehicles. These tests ensured that the final iteration of the lunar micro rover could survive the assent into orbit without stress deformation or fracture.

I currently hold degrees from Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire and the University of New Mexico (UNM), in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I recently received my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. While at UNM, I focused on controls theory and application to mobile autonomous robotics. I also worked and researched in UNM’s Multi-Agent, Robotic, Hybrid and Embedded Systems (MARHES) Lab. During my fourth year at UNM I founded the UNM Robotics Club and secured more than $3500 in robotics equipment for the students to use and learn with.

Future Plans

I am very interested in the future of manned spaceflight and the future robotic exploration of the solar system. At the NASA Academy for Space Exploration I hope to gain significant knowledge and insight as to the processes and mission development, and execution methods common within the agency. I hope to one day become the project manager or division head for a robotics research group within NASA.

Extracurricular Activities

When not at school (rarely), I enjoy riding my motorcycle, working on my 1969 Chevy Camaro, attending Giants baseball games, and afternoon barbeques. I also enjoy learning new languages both programming and spoken and building homebrew robotics.