In seventh grade, after reading a newspaper article about female engineers at NASA, Maria Bualat knew that was what she wanted to be when she grew up. Fast forward to today. Maria is now a robotics engineer NASA Ames Research Center; in Mountain View, CA where she develops robotics systems for space exploration. Her main project at the moment is Astrobee -- a free-flying robot for the International Space Station. It will be able to do inspections and also monitor air quality.
As the deputy group lead for the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames, she does high level thinking, project management and systems engineering. This means she sets the goals and direction of the project and coordinates with different teams and engineers to make sure the project is successful.
Maria earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and was hired at NASA right out of school. She continued her education and earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis in controls while simultaneously working at NASA. For students interested in a career in science or engineering, she recommends cultivating good communication and writing skills.