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Randii Wessen
Randii Wessen

Randii Wessen

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Pasadena, CA USA

"You only have two choices: You coast and do nothing (in which case, you've really just wasted your life force), or you try things. And maybe some things will fail. Maybe some things will succeed. But if you don't try, you'll never find those things that work out."

Career Roadmap

Randii's work combines: Engineering, Science, and Learning / Being Challenged

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Day In The Life

Astronautics Systems Engineer

I lead teams of scientists and engineers generating ideas for future space missions, like going to Mars.

Skills & Education

Here's the path I took:

  • High School

  • Bachelor's Degree

    Physics, General

    Stony Brook University

  • Bachelor's Degree


    Stony Brook University

  • Graduate Degree

    Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Astronautical/Space Engineering, General

    University of Southern California

  • Doctorate

    Operations Research

    University of South Wales

Life & Career Milestones

My path in life has been direct

  • 1.

    His dad used to always tell him that he had only two rules: find a career you love, and marry someone who can cook.

  • 2.

    He knew he was interested in the sciences, but he wasn't sure which field he liked best, so he studied a wide array of subjects.

  • 3.

    Finally, a class called "Intelligent Life in the Universe" caught his interest.

  • 4.

    One day, the professor asked the class if anyone was interested in a non-paid, non-college-credit assistant position.

  • 5.

    He was the only person to raise his hand, so he got the job; from there, that professor got him a spot on NASA's Voyager project.

  • 6.

    Although he's working in one of the most prestigious labs in the world, he says it hasn't been a completely smooth road.

  • 7.

    He has rejection letters from the shuttle astronaut program (15 of them!), from a number of grad schools, and even from JPL.

  • 8.

    However, he just kept pushing, and always said "yes" to everything; his motto is: "Those who dare, risk defeat. Those who don't, ensure it."