From her earliest days growing up in Cusco, Peru, alumna Jackelynne Silva-Martinez was fervent about the final frontier.
“Ever since I was a little girl in Peru, I’ve been interested in space,” said the 2008 School of Engineering graduate. “I loved seeing pictures of space in magazines. It became a dream of mine when I came to the U.S. to see if working in space was something I could try and do.”
Silva-Martinez still dreams of one day becoming an astronaut. But even if she herself never ventures outside the atmosphere, her impact will continue to be felt by those who do.
An aerospace engineer in the Flight Operations Directorate at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Silva-Martinez recently completed a two-week analog mission at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah, where she served as the crew’s executive officer.
There, she and her crew tested tools and spacesuits to simulate life on the Red Planet.
“I like being able to contribute to future space exploration goals,” Silva-Martinez said. “Every day, there’s something different to wake up to. There are different problems to solve. I like knowing I have a little piece of the puzzle to solve that will make it happen.”
Since graduating, Silva-Martinez has rapidly advanced her career, worked on numerous NASA missions, and obtained two additional master’s degrees. Through it all, her time as a Scarlet Knight stands out.
“[At Rutgers] I gained the discipline I needed to accomplish things,” Silva-Martinez said. “Besides courses, there were activities and organizations to get involved with that helped me develop leadership skills. The combination of a great faculty and courses and other outside activities helped me develop professional skills.”