Through NASA and scholars program,
the sky is no limit for Vasquez
By Billi London-Gray
Krissy Vasquez has been a standout student throughout her college career. But for the electrical engineering senior at Texas State University, success is secondary to the rewards of simply enjoying her work.
“I just like to think, design and build,” she says.
Vasquez says choosing her college and career path was not difficult; her father and two aunts attended Texas State. Thanks to an exceptional opportunity in high school, choosing her major also was a no-brainer.
“I discovered my major while working on a NASA experiment,” she says. “I was doing engineering before engineering was my major.”
While still in high school, Vasquez was chosen as a student research participant in a 2006-07 NASA experiment aimed at measuring mass in space. After high school graduation, she enrolled at Austin Community College and then transferred to Texas State. As one of Ingram School of Engineering’s star students, she was selected to participate in a 2009-10 NASA experiment testing SRED (Smart Resistive Exercise Device) as a way to mimic free-weight exercise in space.
Vasquez was also accepted into the prestigious Houston-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Scholars Program (H-LSAMP), a National Science Foundation-funded program in the College of Science at Texas State. H-LSAMP creates a structured community where students receive faculty mentoring, undergraduate research and internship opportunities, and other forms of individual academic support.
The program aims to substantially increase the number of students — especially minority students — graduating with bachelor’s degrees in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“Christina Vasquez is among a rarified group: female, an electrical engineer, and Hispanic,” says Susan Romanella, the director of the H-LSAMP Scholars Program and one of Vasquez’s faculty mentors. “She has forged collaborative research ties with students and faculty from both ACC and Texas State, culminating in her selection as the leader of a student group that participated in the summer 2010 NASA research experiments.”
For her senior design project, Vasquez is developing an automated document camera. Most commonly, document cameras are mounted over a surface where books, objects and documents can be photographed and projected live onto a screen. Vasquez’s project will increase the versatility of a document camera.
“My camera-controlled device sends a signal to a microcontroller, and the microcontroller moves a servo motor to follow hand movement of the user,” she says.
After she graduates from Texas State in December, Vasquez plans to pursue a career in research and development, preferably working on aerospace applications.
“I plan to go straight into the job market. I love to work,” she says. “I am preparing to work at Boeing R&D in Seattle, Wash.”