Learning Series Welcomes NASA Engineer

Windward Communications

On Monday, March 1, Windward Learning Series, in conjunction with STEAM and the student group WISE, welcomed NASA engineer Jan Berkely for a virtual presentation. A native of Los Angeles and an alumna of the University of Southern California, Jan earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering before going to work at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her career in spacecraft systems development, test, launch, and operations has included work on Galileo, a mission to Jupiter; Deep Space 1, a NASA discovery mission; Cassini, a mission to Saturn; and the Mars MER mission.

As part of the visit, 10th Grade students Isis Ginyard and Sarah Morrison introduced the speaker and also talked about their new club, WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) which was introduced as “a club for female Windward high school students to connect with other women in the industry in order to give them insight on the opportunities available to them after they graduate.” 

Said Katie Thoma, Associate STEAM Director, of the event: “One opportunity virtual school has afforded us is we’ve been able to bring in some really interesting speakers this year. With the recent Mars rover landing, it was awesome to have Jan provide some insight into how to design for space travel and the goals of these endeavors.”

Melanie Arias, Associate Director, Prep Division, added "It was such a thrill to share the excitement of space exploration with Jan and our students as part of the learning series, and to hear about the many firsts of her career both in space and in her field as an African American woman in engineering. I loved learning about the many facets of her life,” Melanie continued. “She is a space engineer who also danced with the LA Sparks dance team! She encouraged students to explore their interests in all areas and embrace all kinds of opportunities to learn and explore, which is a great message as students think about how they want to engage this Summer and the coming school year."

Thank you to Jan for her time and expertise!