Diana Trujillo Pomerantz

Diana Trujillo Pomerantz

Mission Lead, Mars Curiosity


NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Pasadena, CA USA


Community college made me believe that I could do it. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing worth doing is.

Milestones

Milestones

My road in life has been direct.
Born and raised in Colombia—says it was a “toxic environment” and that she used to worry about whether she would make it home at night.
Grew up watching I Dream of Jeannie—was inspired by the characters working at NASA and used to dream of working there one day.
Leaving her family behind, she came to the U.S. when she was 17 with $300 in her pocket and didn’t speak any English.
She worked four jobs, barely had money to eat, and lived out of her car, but she would never miss school—she knew that with an education she would be unstoppable.
Says that her decision to go to community college set her up for success—the small classes, attentive professors, low cost, and diversity, made her feel comfortable and believe that she could do it.
Picked her aerospace engineering major based on researching the backgrounds of female astronauts—admits that she had no idea what aerospace engineering was.
She now leads the team at NASA’s JPL in charge of the Mars Curiosity rover, a vehicle designed to study the Martian climate and geology in order to prepare for human exploration.
Says that “you have to keep pushing forward” and respect what everyone behind you has done and sacrificed in order for you to get to where you are.
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
associates
Associate's Degree
Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering
Miami Dade College
undergrad
Bachelor
Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering
University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Career

Career

Mission Lead, Mars Curiosity

I am an engineer contributing to both human & robotic space missions for NASA, most notably the Mars Curiosity Mission.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Science
Science
Engineering
Engineering
Accomplishing Goals
Accomplishing Goals

Day to Day

I work with my team to ensure the communications between the spacecraft and scientists on Earth runs smoothly and I oversee all aspects of the mission to ensure everyone has what they need and does a good job. My work is very "in the moment", things can go wrong very quickly and I need to be fully prepared to deal with it.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

You need to have a good understanding of engineering and aerospace science. It's also beneficial to know how to work effectively with a team and manage many conflicting tasks. Maintaining your composure when things go wrong is essential.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Research people that are currently working in the field you are interested in and see what schooling and experience they have so you know what paths you could take. Just keep pushing forward!

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

certification
Associate's Degree
Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering
undergrad
Bachelor
Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering
Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"Maybe I shouldn't go to school. I could just start working more hours instead so that I can afford other things."

You have to remember your purpose and what kind of impact you want to make in the world. That will keep you on the path.

Challenges I Overcame

First-Generation Immigrant
First-Generation Immigrant

I came to the US when I was 17 with $300 and spoke no English and had no idea what I was going to do.

Financial
Financial

There was a time when I was working four jobs to help pay for classes, but barely making enough to eat, and living out of my car.

Gangs / Violence
Gangs / Violence

I grew up in Colombia during a rough time in it's history. It was a very dangerous place to grow up and I was always afraid of whether or not I would make it home at night.