JPL Director, I Became an Engineer, & Volunteers

Caltech has announced the appointment of Michael M. Watkins, Ph.D. (TX A ’83), as director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and vice president at Caltech. He will begin his position on July 1, 2016. Currently, Dr. Watkins is director of the Center for Space Research at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). Previously, he spent 22 years at JPL in various leadership positions.

Read the news announcement for more information on Dr. Watkins who served as mission manager and mission system manager for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover and earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from The UT.


As part of the weekly blog feature “I Became An Engineer” from Electronic Component News, Nita K. Patel, P.E. (TX I ’95), discusses how learning to sew and working with an electronic sewing machine led her to become an engineer. Click here to read the full blog post written by Nita Patel a systems and software engineering director at L-3 Warrior Systems and chair and founder of the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference.

“As long as I can remember, I have been in love with technology and engineering, the art of creatively solving problems and making lives better. The sewing machine was one of my early encounters of engineering and technology truly making a difference in someone’s life, my own. Engineering truly is the application of technology for the benefit of humanity and this is what keeps me engaged in and passionate about what I do – I know that what I engineer affects others and, hopefully, makes their lives easier, simpler, better.”


Below is an image of members of the Southeastern Michigan Alumni Chapter of Tau Beta Pi volunteering on April 16 at Gleaners Community Food Bank of Detroit, MI. Visit the alumni chapter’s Facebook page for more information.

SE MI Alumni Chapter volunteers


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