EPISODE 1: TRACY DRAIN
Tracy's mother was a relatively low-income earner in Louisville, Kentucky, who shared her love of learning and her curiosity about space. With her ongoing support and encouragement, Tracy became the first person in her immediate family to receive a college degree. She earned both a Bachelor of Science and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.
Hired directly from school by JPL, today Tracy is a key part of development and mission operations at JPL.
Her work has provided valuable contributions to Juno, the mission that recently arrived at Jupiter, to Kepler, the mission looking for other Earth-like planets in our galaxy, and to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
WATCH HER STORY
Watch Tracy's story of her trajectory to JPL, the missions she has worked on, and her advice to a young girl, anywhere in the world, who yearns to dare mighty things.
Tracy has played an integral part in the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been studying the Red Planet's atmosphere and terrain from orbit since 2006, the Kepler Mission, which is searching for Earth-like planets outside our solar system, and the Juno Mission to Jupiter. Find out more about them.
Tracy Drain is a systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and is currently the deputy chief engineer for the Juno Mission to Jupiter.
Tracy graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and earned a master’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, both in the field of mechanical engineering. As an undergrad at the University of Kansas, she completed four rotations as an engineering co-op student at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Upon graduating from Georgia Tech in 2000, she officially joined the NASA family as a systems engineer at JPL.
In her 16 years at the lab, Tracy has been involved in the development, testing and operation of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the Kepler mission and the Juno mission, which entered into orbit around Jupiter in July 2016. Her roles on these projects have included serving as the transition phase lead and lead systems engineer for MRO, the mission readiness lead for Kepler, and now the deputy chief engineer in operations for Juno.
While on the Juno mission, Tracy has also served as the technical group supervisor for the Flight System Systems Engineering group. While in that role, she provided guidance and oversight to other systems engineers supporting a variety of JPL missions.
Tracy is passionate about space exploration and STEM fields in general and loves taking every opportunity to share her enthusiasm with students, their parents and teachers.
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