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Alumnus, NASA manager a key contributor at Stennis Space Center

By NASA Stennis Space Center

Published: Nov 30, 2022 2:07:00 PM

Karma Snyder has two Auburn Engineering degrees, a BS in mechanical engineering in 1995 and an MS in aerospace engineering in 2012. Karma Snyder has two Auburn Engineering degrees, a BS in mechanical engineering in 1995 and an MS in aerospace engineering in 2012.

NASA Range Safety Manager Karma Snyder’s excitement for the space program and what she has learned during 25 years of working at Stennis Space Center is contagious and something she takes beyond the gates of the south Mississippi site.

Snyder’s wide experience at the nation’s largest propulsion test site has given her the opportunity to share more about NASA with her children’s scout troops and others. She also mentors students interested in pursuing careers in engineering.

The Biloxi, Mississippi, native earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, both from Auburn University in Alabama. Snyder tells people she mentors that an engineering degree provides one with the tools to perform a job effectively but that not everything can be taught in a classroom.

While teaching engineering mechanics at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Snyder told students the college courses were a good starting point but much of the learning would take place on the job.

At a buzzing federal city like Stennis, there is a flurry of activities taking place on any given day. It is a place where much learning can happen on the job, and Snyder’s current role is to help facilitate that.

She has the experience to do so. Through the years, Snyder has worked as a student intern, a systems and test engineer, a test conductor, and a project manager. In her current role as the range safety manager, Snyder helps ensure ongoing site operations are conducted in a safe manner. This is a welcome challenge and something Snyder finds fulfilling because it allows her to work with many people.

“I really enjoy collaborating with all the different organizations,” Snyder said. “At Stennis, we all work together to make miracles happen. The diversity of our Stennis workforce ensures that all angles of an issue are explored, increasing our capabilities to creatively and effectively tackle a challenge.”

Whether it involves the use of Stennis airspace, waterway transportation, or anywhere else throughout the more than 130,000 acres of the site, Snyder and the range safety officers are there to see that all bases are covered.

“Safety is not merely a check-the-box activity or something to prevent our operations from occurring,” Snyder said. “Safety is a collaborative effort with operations to help ensure our work is accomplished with mitigating risks that may prevent us from meeting mission objectives.”

Whether helping others accomplish their work at Stennis or helping future engineers realize their dreams, Snyder is doing so at the outset of NASA’s most ambitious lunar initiative yet with the launch of Artemis I.

For her part, Snyder was closely involved in supporting unmanned aircraft system operations during Green Run testing of the first Space Launch System core stage on the B-2 Test Stand at Stennis. She also served as a systems engineer during the Green Run effort, which involved conducting a series of integrated tests on the core stage that will help launch the Artemis I mission to the Moon.

“I am incredibly excited to be part of this historic time in our space program,” she said. “Recently, I had the opportunity to see the Artemis rocket inside the vehicle assembly building at Kennedy Space Center. As the rocket came into view, I became quite emotional. I was emotional because I know how much work from our center, other NASA centers, and industry has gone into making this incredible machine that will take us to the Moon. I had an immense sense of pride as I looked up at the rocket.”

Media Contact: Joe McAdory, jem0040@auburn.edu, 334.844.3447

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