Discovering Engineering: Missions to Mars

This week First Book is sharing stories about science and engineering from some of our friends at Lockheed Martin. Today’s guest blogger is Karolyn Evans, an aerospace engineer with Lockheed Martin in Colorado.

Lockheed Martin engineer Karolyn Evans shares her story with First Book

Hi, my name is Karolyn Evans and I’m an aerospace engineer working for Lockheed Martin in their Space Systems Division in Littleton, Colo.

I remember the very first time I discovered the power of engineering — June 27, 1982. I was five years old and living in Florida at the time. I was struck by the roar of the Space Shuttle Columbia as it lifted off of Cape Kennedy launch site 39-A. From that moment on I knew I wanted to be an engineer.

As an engineer at Lockheed Martin, I take pride in upholding our company’s long-standing tradition of promoting science, technology, engineering, and math to K-12 students. When I’m working on a program that is going to send a spacecraft to Mars, I want to share that thrill and sense of exploration with the next generation.

Students at Lockheed Martin's Engineering Exploring Post in Colorado
In Denver, I get to work with a great group of high school students in the Lockheed Martin-sponsored Engineering Exploring Post. Through this program, aerospace industry employees (including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Stellar Solutions and Eagle Aerospace) and I helped mentor over 150 high school students from over 30 area high schools. The students inspire us by providing fresh, new ideas and are always looking for new ways to do things and opportunities to improve.

One of the student experiments our group did last year comes to mind. The students’ in-class project — a rover — didn’t “work” they way they thought it would. When I asked what went wrong, the students said the motor wasn’t strong enough to move the rover. When I asked what they would do differently next time, they said, “We need to make the rover lighter.” Our spacecraft and rover teams face these real-life engineering problem daily.

The inspiration I get from mentoring students and constantly looking for a better way to do something, either on Earth or off, is what really keeps me going. The better we understand something on Mars or Venus, the better we can explain what could happen here on Earth. Everything is better with engineering.

For more information about the Lockheed Martin Engineering Exploring Post visit us at

If you’re a student, what do you think of Karolyn’s job? What do you like (or dislike) about studying science and math in school?