An alumnus of Texas A&M University-Commerce was named as a “Rookie of the Year” by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Jacob Stahl, who graduated from A&M-Commerce in 2014 with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Mathematics, was given the award last month. The “590 Rookie of the Year Award” is given to employees from the Mission Engineering and Systems Analysis Division who show “commitment to excellence, creativity, dedication, customer service and personal integrity in providing outstanding support to Goddard’s mission.”
Stahl says that there was no defining moment that made him pursue a NASA career, but it was something he had dreamed of since childhood.
“I would go on trips with family to Houston and see the Johnson Space Center,” Stahl said. “I would always be fascinated by the rockets, technology and spaceflight.”
He put those interests into action, and after years of applying for internships following graduation, he finally was chosen to be an intern in the summer of 2016, where some of his projects involved him designing a deep-space habitat for humans.
Since then, he has transitioned to a full-time employee at the Goddard Center, where he has now been recognized for his work. Stahl said that the award was “exciting” and it was a big boost to see that he was doing good work.
One major project Stahl has been working on is “green propellant,” meant to be a much safer alternative to powering NASA’s rockets than using the highly-toxic Hydrazine, which is in use heavily today.
Stahl said that the biggest piece of advice he could give to anyone considering a career in aerospace is to “Pursue what’s most interesting to you.”
“There are a lot of ways to work for NASA outside of being an astronaut or mathematician,” Stahl said. “If you have an interest in it, go for it and work hard.”
Stahl’s hometown is Dike, roughly 30 miles east of Commerce. He is also the recipient of a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M.