Dava Newman: Outfitting the next generation of Space explorers and more!

Talk about impressive women scientists. The newly nominated NASA deputy administrator, Dava Newman, is at the cutting edge of space exploration.

She is credited with developing a new spacesuit design for astronauts to wear while exploring Mars and its extreme environments, including Olympus Mons (a volcano that is nearly three times the height of Mount Everest). Not only is this new suit aesthetically pleasing to the eye, which she hopes will “help make more of a human connection for folks” but it is also safer than traditional Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs)!

 

Of course, to be nominated for such a position, we would assume that she has a pretty remarkable background, and we would be right: 3 graduate degrees from MIT (two Master degrees in aeronautics and astronautics in technology and policy, and a PhD in aerospace biomedical engineering). She has been on the MIT faculty since 1993 and is the director of MIT’s Technology and Policy Program, director of the MIT Portugal Program, and a Margaret McVicar Faculty Fellow.


Although her responsibilities as the deputy administrator for NASA will be demanding and include everything from communications to managing international relationships and the International Space Station, an integral part of her job will also be to encourage the interest of young people in space and engineering.


I’d like to change the conversation with kids about what it means to be an engineer

According to Newman, being an engineer is “the best job in the world, where you get to solve really challenging and extraordinary problems in the service of humanity”. From confronting the challenges of designing a relatively comfortable spacesuit that provides explorers with more freedom of movement for Mars, to using this technology to treat children with cerebral palsy and seniors with severe balance impediments, her job requires an interesting mixture of creativity and practicality. In other words, it seems pretty exciting, doesn’t it?

L’Oréal–UNESCO
For Women in Science

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