CS&E Alum Impresses NASA as First Deaf Engineer in Active Mission Control Role

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May 25, 2017

CS&E alum Johanna Lucht was recently featured in an article on NASA.gov for her work in mission control where she helped analyze the early stages of a modified NASA Gulfstream Flight—the first NASA aircraft to fly with a twisted wing flap configuration.

Where most in the Armstrong Flight Research Center’s mission control were engineers donning headsets to monitor communications, Johanna Lucht carried out her tasks by receiving flight communications from an interpreter who used American Sign Language to communicate the technical terminology necessary for Lucht to help complete the mission. 

Lucht currently serves as a Systems II Engineer for NASA, where she is responsible for observing and evaluating data related to GPS and navigation systems.  Additionally, she monitors in-flight data to see how well the aircraft is performing.

Lucht first learned about the NASA position while she was studying here at the University of Minnesota.  Shortly after she applied, NASA accepted her to intern at NASA Armstrong.

“NASA offered me the opportunity, and I was shocked,” Lucht says in the article. “When I was a kid, I used to learn about Challenger and the shuttles. It was interesting, but I never really thought I’d be a part of NASA. When I read the offer in the e-mail, I closed my laptop, went for a walk, came back, re-read it, cleaned my glasses, and read it again. I pinched myself, and decided this was really happening.”

The article goes on to laud Lucht’s accomplishments as a young intern in NASA Armstrong’s research and engineering department, where she worked on the interface for a mobile app that alerts pilots to potentially hazardous terrain. Shortly after the internship, she was offered a full time position with NASA Armstrong’s Sensors and Systems Development branch, and then later with the Center’s Vehicle Integration and Test branch.

Lead systems engineer Keith Schewekhard says in the article that it didn’t take long to notice the magnitude of Lucht’s talent, often finding creative ways to complete assignments quickly and efficiently, despite the added challenges she faces daily.

“We all meet the challenges that are presented in the environment,” Lucht goes on to say, “and we do what we can to overcome them.”

To read the full feature on Johanna Lucht and her recent accomplishments for NASA, please visit NASA.gov.

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Alumni News