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Javier Ocasio-Perez: Spacecraft Engineer

Updated: Jan 17, 2022

Meet Javier Ocasio-Perez

Aerospace Engineer

His Work: Integration & Test Manager at NASA

Javier Ocasio-Perez loved playing with Legos when he was young. It was fun to follow the directions and build something. Then came the best part. Taking it apart and making something new from the parts. Something he created. In a way, that’s what Javier does at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

NASA engineers like Javier are always learning about the parts of spaceships and equipment. What materials were used? What does each piece do? Then they get to be creative. They “reimagine” how the pieces could be used to make new equipment. How can they design and build equipment that can answer big questions? Is there life on Mars? How was the universe formed? How does the sun work?

Nobody builds a spaceship alone. Groups of scientists and engineers build pieces of a big project. Every group has to understand how their part fits and what it must do. Part of Javier’s job is to make sure that all those groups are being heard and understood. Mistakes could cost lives.

Javier also is in charge of testing. The spaceship must survive launch. It must work in the vacuum of space where there is no air. It must work in extreme cold. It must work in little or no gravity. Testing gives NASA confidence the mission will succeed. He is proud to have worked on the James Webb Space Telescope that was launched in December of 2021.

Javier is very thankful that somebody helped him get a summer internship at NASA. That led to him being hired. Now he works hard to make sure other Hispanics and minorities are also given help and opportunities. Javier serves on the Goddard Hispanic Advisory Committee to make sure minorities find out about internships. He tells people about careers at NASA. He helps minorities apply for job openings.

Javier is proud to be a Hispanic engineer at NASA. Some people are surprised that he speaks English with a Spanish accent. (English is his second language.) Some people are surprised that such a young person has so much responsibility. But Javier feels his accent and his youth are badges of honor. He wants to show others that they too can aim for the stars and become part of the NASA team.

Photo Credits: With permission from NASA

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