Mamta Patel Nagaraja
Mamta Patel Nagaraja is an American engineer. She has degrees in aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering. During her career at NASA, Nagaraja trained astronauts and operated as one of NASA’s certified flight controllers for the communications system of their Mission Control Center. In 2011, Nagaraja was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal. She is currently Project Manager for the Women at Nasa project. The project is a joint initiative between NASA and the White House Council on Women and Girls aimed at inspiring other women and young girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Mamta Patel Nagaraja was born in Anaheim, California to parents who emigrated from India to the United States just a year earlier. The family moved to San Angelo, TX when Mamta was 2months old to begin their life in the USA. When she was 16, her uncle had arranged for her to be married, a common practice in the Gujarati culture. Her father refused the proposal and opted to encourage his daughters to continue their education. While giving a TED Talk, she noted how her high school math teacher, Mrs. Bean, changed her life. Mrs. Bean handed Nagaraja a copy of the Texas A&M Full Ride Scholarship application the day before it was due and told her to apply. Nagaraja took her teacher's advice, wrote the essays and sent it as overnight shipping in order to submit the application by its due date. She was awarded the scholarship and began her formal education at Texas A&M University where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering in 2004. She enrolled as a mentee in NASA’s selective Cooperative Education Program. This program allowed her to gain knowledge and experience with what NASA does, inspiring her to further her education.
Two years later, she went on to receive a master's degree in mechanical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. After that, she completed a doctorate in biomedical engineering at Emory University.
Nagaraja began work at NASA's Johnson Space Center, training and educating astronauts about how their bodies react when in space. She trained astronauts who flew aboard the U.S. Space Shuttle as well as the International Space Station. She also worked as one of NASA’s certified flight controllers for the communications system of their Mission Control Center.
Nagaraja currently works full-time as project manager for the Women@NASA project. The Women@NASA program was created as a response to the March 2009 Executive order that created the White House Council on Women and Girls. The council teamed up with NASA to share stories of women working for NASA to provide mentorship and inspiration to other young women and girls. Mamta discovered the program when she was browsing NASA's site and came across the Women@NASA tab. When she noticed she knew one of the program's members, she contacted them and they urged her to join their team. She seized the opportunity work towards encouraging young girls and women to pursue careers in science and math.
The programs intent is to offer inspiration and support to those considering STEM fields. "The crux of the program is to get women across the agency who are willing to share how they got interested in math or science at an early age and who influenced them, or perhaps [share] the moment they realized what they were interested in and how they have navigated the field they are in today." Through providing role models and mentoring opportunities, Women@NASA aims to support and instill early interest in potential science and math students.
- "Spacing out the Youth: Mamta Patel Nagaraja, Ph.D., Women@NASA Project Manager, National Aeronautics". India West. Retrieved 2015-12-10.
-  http://mechanical.cua.edu/faculty/nagaraja.cfm
-  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQDvm9ru-pw
-  http://www.indiawest.com/blogs/spacing-out-the-youth-mamta-patel-nagaraja-ph-d-women/article_8d4199e9-d35d-5634-967f-f40925836637.html
- "President Obama Announces White House Council on Women and Girls".
- "A NASA engineer inspiring women to launch their careers to new heights". #ImAnengineer. Retrieved 2015-12-10.