Carmen Felix - MSS10

CarmenFelix1My Life after ISU

My life can be clearly divided between before and after ISU. ISU was a breaking point that created a world of possibilities in front of me. Since I was a kid, I was amazed by the stars, astronomy, astronauts, satellites and everything related to space. I knew since then that I wanted to become a space professional and be involved on that area every day. But then I had to choose a career, and space engineering was not available in my proximity, so I resorted to electronic engineering.

After university I got a good job. My life was planned and secure, but deep inside I felt I was missing something: I wanted to do something related to space, and not just reading about it.

Then ISU came into my life. A year abroad, living and working with people from all around the world, studying everything related to space and a lot of experiences, including an amazing trip to Russia to see the original capsule of Yuri Gagarin, tuned my life completely.

But the most exciting part came during my internship, when I fulfilled my dream to work inside NASA to a real space project. Last summer I had in fact the chance to design, build, test and fly a spacecraft prototype. The suborbital launch we made in Nevada desert was one of the most exciting experiences of my life: finally I was really launching a rocket with my experiment inside. I also had the chance to collaborate with Google and to prepare a technical talk at the main campus in Silicon Valley. My time at NASA was a great opportunity for me to learn, contribute and meet wonderful people. I also took part to the NASA Lunar Science Forum, talk and inspire kids during the STEP camp, attend the Mission Control Center for Oreos Nanosat at Santa Clara University, and even meet astronaut Buzz Aldrin!

For all my classmates of the 2010 Master Class, ISU ended on August 31, 2010, but for me it continued until December 2010.  My internship at NASA Ames was in fact extended until the end of the year, to allow me to continue to collaborate with the PhoneSat project, which was one of the coolest internship of the entire class.

During the year at ISU, I got involved in a number of initiatives, which allowed me to travel all around the world and meet with the most prominent figures in space sector.

In November I attended to the International America Space Congress in Mexico, where I meet with the people involved in the creation of the Mexican Space Agency. During the Congress I helped NASA to get in touch with universities to create links for future internship opportunities for students, and I gave a talk during the Space Young Forum where I shared my passion with students from all over the country.

In December, I was invited to take part to a round table organized by the Mexican Space Agency to present ideas about the Science and Technology opportunities that Mexico has in the Space sector. Late in January, I took part to another round table on Human Resources for the Mexican Space Agency, where I presented STEP Mexico, the Science, Technology and Exploration Program.  This program, which I am leading for Mexico right now, will allow four kids, one teacher and two scientists from Mexico to take part to the two weeks STEP summer camp at NASA Ames.  This is the first time that NASA accept foreign national at this camp: the goal is to inspire Mexican teenagers to choose space and science related careers. This project will be followed up by a camp in Mexico next year, and by students exchange between the US and Mexican camps.

Back in Mexico, I had the chance to prepare a motivational talk for the citizens of my hometown in Culiacan, Mexico; to inspire them to follow their dreams as I did. For me, the most rewarding thing in life is to see how you can impact in a positive way other’s people life with your example.

I was interviewed by different newspapers at national level, radio and TV. I shared with them my experience and I was asked frequently about my opinion on the future of the Mexican space industry.
I gave advices on how young Mexican people can achieve their goals. One magazine printed an article about my career as recognition of a young Mexican woman that has achieved some important milestones, something that would have not been possible without my training at ISU.

In February I was selected as the National Point of Contact for Mexico for the Space Generation Advisory Council in support of the UN program on Space Applications. I am excited to represent my country and to help increasing the public awareness of space science by doing space outreach.

In February I also attended the ISU Annual Symposium, presenting “The Martian Feeling”, a proposal to use the ISS to simulate a trip to Mars which I developed during our Team Project on Space Analogs. I am currently following up the idea by promoting the team project and taking part to a real analog study in the desert of Rio Tinto, Spain, in late April. The initiative, which is organized by the Austrian Space Forum in Innsbruck, includes several biological experiments, ESA robotics, and the new astronaut spacesuit AOUDA.

My life changed completely after ISU. I made a lot of sacrifices, but I got much in return. Being away from Mexico helped me to grow as a human being, and in turn brought me closer to the real important people in my life.  ISU was by far the best year of my life not only because of the school, but because I learned what I liked most and I met wonderful people, which will be my friends for life.