A highlight from American Dreaming with Jos Daz-Balart: NASA engineers Elio Morillo and Roxana Gonzlez Burgos

NBC Nightly News


What is the american dream mean to you. What it means to me is to being able to bring up my community with me. That is part of the dream that i am. Building i wanna see more people like the in the forefront of technology. We'd build on previous knowledge and right now. We are building knowledge for future generations. Morillo ruksana gonzalez. Google's it is such a pleasure to meet you and to have an opportunity to get to know you a little bit. Thanks for being with me. Thank you both are so intricately. Involved in the mars rover and in our mission to mars. And it's so fascinating because when we see what just. Recently perseverance was able to accomplish. We all stand in all. But it's difficult i think for us to understand. Just how complicated. How difficult it is to carry out this this mission to mars and it's so wonderful to see two of the people that are so intricately involved in that in that mission and let me start with you. You're born in ecuador. Raised in puerto rico. Spent time in new york. What is it for you that when you were growing up spacemen for you yeah. I'm a nomad now. Even traveling between planets and certain way. It's fantastic the opportunities. I've had Come from a place of struggle but I have been fortunate enough to have worked hard enough to be able to get to where i am. Space it has given me a glimpse into a difficult to really difficult challenges. I think the interest in space is almost inherent to my story as an immigrant where it is so difficult to go through these experiences. It is very similar to to pursue difficult challenges in space. I think there there is. There are some parallels in my technical career and in my personal life in in that sense and ever. Since i was a kid i learned a lot through a more than anything shows from like. Pbs or even watching things like Cartoon network what was dexterous laboratory these things like instill these ideas that one day. I know one of these scientists. I can start exploring these technologies that Explore other worlds. My mom has all the credit in that sense too. Because since i was very young it was very. It was instilled in me that i would have to go pursue an education to to be able to. You know live my dream and here. I am working on a mission. That's exploring another world than i am always having a ton of fun with it interesting. Talk about that. Relation right between being an immigrant and facing unknown challenges and realities new country new idiosyncrasies new language. New everything in your mom actually left ecuador four new york and really start a new life because she wanted something better for you and it's even difficult to put myself in in her shoes. At the time you know she had nearly twenty plus years In a career as a teacher as an educator and to have to drop everything and start from scratch. I can just only barely imagine what that's like. All of it really just to make sure that i had a safe secure future and you know i will always be very grateful for all the sacrifices my mom has undergone in how hard she worked in that and being that example for me. Let's talk a little bit about the journey. Puerto rico not speaking english and dreaming of the stars. It's interesting because you know when we think of of space programs or science technology there is such a dire lack of women and then latinos just not there for the most part. Your definitely correct. They're always felt very this than for me to be united to achieve that. It was ny academic man through that will be. Hey here's this. Opportunity at the propulsion laboratory address hitting new lesson at the time and she told me to get up right so i applied. Initially i get an interview. The following day i get an offer on i am right ally. God i'm going to california cornea and in i. I don't feel comfortable with my english. I was very self conscious about it. Mostly because it wasn't perfect at also because i could not speak as fast as i speak spanish in that makes sense for people in the carry-on all that you all agree that when you speak two languages and one is english and one is spanish. You'll you're never able to get as many words out in english as you do in a second sadly any field. They're out what i needed to say. So gladly. I have beautiful. Workers were willing to tell me with that thing that i thought he was telling me. Tation will tell them. Can you please correct me. And can you please you like every time i say something. That sounds Discount to me. Correct me and over the years you know. After five years of working rockets that really full teams. I feel comfortable about it. And it's no longer ovation for me. Was there ever a time when you're thinking about you know computers and technology and and your future that someone said but on the funding that's gross. Because if you look very few women in that field. I did face some challenges in working in the field. We people will underestimate me. Just because i'm a woman. I practice myself. Never stood out because honor woman. But because you're gonna get engineer. And because i was good at what i do and up to this point. I think that i have kept that promise. You are so important in creating essentially a model here on earth that is utilized so that instructions Software issues can be dealt with on earth before gets to mars. Can you explain to me. What that is i've been involved in what is called the system testbed at jpl so we have a facility called the mars yard as well as another building where we have different sets of computers that are intended to replicate different aspects of the mission. So as you have been following along with lars twenty twenty we had our launch. We had our cruised through space. We had the very exciting entry descent landing and then we have the surface operations so all those different stages of the mission we have designed systems of computers that are specifically useful for those different stages. So if you come to. Jpl we have our mars yard where we have the earth version of perseverance and the earth version is called optimism. There's basically an inside joke with the team as we do testing we. Our motto is typically no optimism So once we have optimism on the ground here he kind of changed how

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