Ask Alumni Live: Becoming a NASA Engineer

NASA Engineer and alumna Dr. Elizabeth Jens shares her career insights – splitting her time between working on projects for the Mars 2020 mission and interplanetary missions.
This event is part of the Alumni Career Compass series.

Dr. Elizabeth Jens

Propulsion and Systems Engineer at NASA

Dr Beth Jens decided at age 12 to become an astronaut, and now works in as a Propulsion Engineer at Caltech’s famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) – where the Mars rovers and much of NASA’s early rocket technology were developed. Getting this far has taken a lot of hard work, a fair dollop of serendipity and more than a splash of ambition. She completed a combined Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Hons) and BSc in Physics at the University of Melbourne in 2008, and was selected to present her work at the world’s largest space conference. That was her introduction to the global space community. She then attended an introductory course at the International Space University at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and subsequently enrolled in a Masters of Aeronautics & Astronautics at Stanford University. She became an intern at JPL and subsequently completed her PhD at Stanford, studying a new, safer form of rocket propulsion using a fast-burning hybrid fuel.