Mexican talent empowered at NASABy Karen López
Dorothy Ruiz Martínez, engineer native of San Luis Potosí, will be on mission control for the next expeditions to Mars.
An outstanding work at NASA as flight controller, rocket designer and astronaut instructor is what has caught the attention of the specialized press regarding Dorothy Ruiz Martinez, a woman from San Luis Potosí, who has proven to be a great Latin American talent in a field no one would have ever imagined a few years ago.
“Little Dorothy Ruiz-Martinez was always looking up—first at the stars from the top of her grandparents’ house in the city of Matehuala, San Luis Potosi, Mexico—and then a bit later to watch Space Shuttle Challenger and its failed ascent. That pivotal tragedy would forever shape her future,” says NASA who interviewed its collaborator.
Ruiz Martínez finished ninth grade in Mexico, after which she moved to the United States, learning English as a second language. This was when the doors really began to swing wide open.
“My Spanish teacher saw some kind of talent in me. I was good in math, science and overall academics. She kind of took me in as a support system.”
She attended the University of Oklahoma and graduated from Texas A & M University with a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering. Afterwards, she interned at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, conducting research in cryogenic materials for reusable launch vehicles. This experience led her to determine how accurate her decision to pursue a career in spaceflight had been.
“The whole process of research—being mentored by someone so smart—convinced me that that’s what I wanted to do. It was like a confirmation,” she added.
Now, as part of mission control and as an astronaut instructorfinally understanding the launch system and how it works, Dorothy can finally answer the she had as a child, besides answering other kids’ questionsthrough her outreach work with Johnson Space Center’s Hispanic Employee Resource Group.
“Being in mission control, there’s a big pride in what we do, because we’re contributing to space operations by keeping the space station connected to the ground through satellite and ground communications,” said Ruiz Martínez.
Ruiz Martínez talks about her Hispanic heritage and culture which she hopes to see more of in technical fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
“We are a colorful and warm culture. There’s closeness, a camaraderie we bring. Here (in America), everyone’s into their own thing. We could bring that sense of camaraderie into different fields if we keep growing in talent,” she pointed out.
Dorothy thanked all those who follow her work and highlight her power, and encouraged the continued promotion of STEM careers in youth, especially for women.
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