I am Cindy Nafus, and I am a Senior Production Leader for United Launch Alliance (ULA). My responsibility on the Orion program is to make sure the production of the booster core and second stage of the Delta IV Heavy rocket, which will be used to launch Orion on Exploration Flight Test-1, are built correctly and efficiently.
I really don’t think there are many things cooler than building rockets for a living! And on top of that, I feel extremely proud when I tell people I oversee the building of the rocket that will launch Orion on its first test flight—our first step to deep space.
It’s no accident my career has ended up the way it is. My father worked for McDonnell Douglas and then Boeing for more than 40 years. The aerospace business is in my blood. I remember vividly watching the landing on the Moon when I was only 9 years old. I can remember exactly where I was, and I still get chills thinking about it.
I strongly encourage new college graduates to spend time in a production environment. This is where you obtain the kind of experience that you can never get sitting behind a desk. There is nothing more gratifying than walking out of your office and seeing the hardware that you design, build or test.