From here to the moon
From a very young age Jennifer Walker has dreamed of going to the moon. “My earliest memories include this amazing desire to explore space,” says Walker. “And my college career has been all about preparing to become an astronaut.”
Walker hopes to be launched into space soon; she recently submitted her second application to NASA. “When I go into space, I'm going to take a TCC banner that says `From Here Go Anywhere.’ What a cool destination for a message which has proven so true for my life.”
Walker got her start at the Chesapeake Campus studying engineering. “TCC was a great choice because I was not ready to leave home, and I didn't have the finances for a four-year school. During my second year at the college, I joined the Engineering Club and got involved building this super-sized space shuttle out of cans for Canstruction,” she recalls. “I loved the space connection, but even more appreciated what I learned by working on a team.”
At one point on her journey at TCC, Walker says she hit a wall bridging the gap between math and engineering. “I was having such a hard time. My engineering instructor, Mr. Weaver, gave me work sheets that helped things click. If it wasn't for him, I might not have made it.” Walker also credits professors Paul Gordy, engineering program head, Steven Ezell, Joseph Harrell and David French for their support and superior teaching methods.
Walker continued on for baccalaureate studies at Virginia Tech, earning two bachelor's degrees – one in math, the other in mechanical engineering. From there she earned a master's in fire protection engineering from the University of Maryland.
At work in Florida, Walker is a fire protection engineer with URS Corp. “I work with Department of Defense clients doing safety code analysis and sprinkler system design for government buildings,” Walker explains. “It's challenging work and I love what I'm doing.”
On weekends and days off, Walker and her husband spend time at Cape Canaveral. “I've seen three shuttle launches and met with former astronauts at Kennedy Space Center. It's been great to get some insider tips about getting into the program,” Walker adds.
Walker says she is well prepared for a lifetime of learning and credits TCC for a great start. "I proudly display a TCC sticker on the back window of my car and, under it, stickers from Tech and Maryland. The cool thing is the next stop for me may be the moon."