[Alumni Spotlight] Space System Engineer Latasha Taylor Starr

LaTasha Taylor Starr

Space Systems Engineer

Education

  • Master’s degree in Human-Centered Design and Engineering (formerly called Technical Communication),
  • Certificate in User Interface Design, UW
  • Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics, minor in biology, Tennessee State University

Career path

  • Boeing
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Centro De Astrobiologia in Madrid, Spain
  • NASA Johnson Space Center
  • NASA Ames
  • Lockheed Martin

Recent work

As a space systems engineer for Lockheed Martin, LaTasha has worked on a variety of projects aimed at making technologies for space exploration more user friendly. She recently worked on a Houston-based team that helped to design the Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle for NASA. The purpose of this new human space flight system, which remains in testing and development, is to transport crews of astronauts safely to and from the International Space Station, the moon, Mars and other destinations beyond the Earth.

LaTasha and her colleagues designed controls and displays in the Orion’s cockpit, where the crew will spend most of its time. “Astronauts who came back from the International Space Station would test our prototype,” she said. “It was amazing to get instant feedback and then incorporate it back into our design.”

Her latest assignment, based in Silicon Valley, is on a classified program.

Background

LaTasha grew up in Memphis, where her parents instilled in her a strong sense of resilience amidst the racism and other challenges she encountered. She excelled in academics, music (first-chair clarinet) and sports (voted “most athletic” by her high school peers) and earned full scholarships both for college and graduate school. “Everything I did, I gave 110 percent. Anything less was, and still is, unacceptable,” she said.

LaTasha’s interest in science and engineering blossomed while attending college at Tennessee State University, where she majored in aeronautics and minored in biology. She landed prestigious internships with Boeing, NASA and others each summer during college and, armed with a variety of work experiences, opted to enter graduate school immediately after her college graduation.

“At that point I was so hungry to keep learning more about my field,” she said.

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