Justin Rice

Justin Rice, DSCOVR Lead at NASA

Conversations with Goddard - Justin RiceDr. Justin Rice, DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) GDS (Goddard Dynamic Simulator) Lead at NASA, has had great STEM experiences and, in turn, has great advice for aspiring STEM students.  Read his interview with LSMCE to learn more about Dr. Rice and how he has made an impact on the STEM community.

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of your job, and what has been the most challenging part of your job?

A: I am fortunate enough to work at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center – home to largest collection of scientists and engineers in the world. The center is akin to a big college campus. No day is ever quite the same. I get a chance to: work with some amazing people on some amazing projects, educate the general public on the benefits and impact of NASA missions, and inspire the next generation to pursue careers in STEM.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome in your field/line of work?Rice_ComfortZone

A: The biggest challenge to overcome in my field is the same challenge to overcome in any STEM career. It is interdisciplinary, and it is constantly evolving.  In order to make some relevant contribution, I have to grow, change, adapt, and always be willing to work outside of my comfort zone.

Q: What does your involvement with students and with the STEM community look like?

A: My involvement with students and the STEM community looks like robotics on the weekends. I am a First Lego League (FLL) coach for a group of middle-schoolers. The program runs throughout the school year. It is a big time commitment, but it’s rewarding. I teach them programming fundamentals on a college level, and they absorb the material. To see them learn, grow, compete, and win is an awesome feeling. In fact, they recently won the 1st Place Champion’s Award at the National Society of Black Engineers FLL Championship Tournament, and they will be advancing to participate in the FLL World Tournament in St. Louis, Missouri from April 22, 2015 to April 25, 2015.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice for aspiring STEM students, what would it be and why?Rice_Skill

A: Persist and persevere because sometimes being naturally smart is not good enough. Skill picks up where talent fails; and the only way to acquire skill is through hard work - practice, try, fail, and repeat. Success in STEM is a byproduct of this type of rigor.

Q: Any advice for students on how to find what they are truly passionate about?

A: To find things that you are passionate about, you have to search. Meticulously search for those things that give you a strong and true sense of fulfillment. Set sail on a journey with a sense of urgency and fervency – as if you have lost something of extreme importance. Uncovering passion and purpose is not a passive thing. Discovery is active. It’s deliberate. It’s intentional.

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