This African American Couple is Working on the First Rocket Ship to go to Mars
Myron and Tiera Fletcher are working on the biggest challenge of their engineering careers — designing the first rocket-ship to go to Mars.
Despite being married in July, Myron and Tiera Fletcher are not slowing down with their ambitions to change the world. Tiera holds a degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT. Additionally, Myron holds a double degree in Aerospace Engineering and Physics from Tuskegee University as well as a Masters in Engineering Management from Duke University. The Fletchers have already worked at Boeing and NASA. Additionally, the Fletchers are passionate about impacting the next generation of STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics) enthusiasts ! Currently, the Fletchers have embarked on their biggest challenge yet as some of the engineers behind the Space Launch System (SLS) — the first rocket-ship that will go to Mars !
Where does your love of science STEM from ?
Myron Fletcher (MF) : I grew up near Clinton National Airport. Every day, I passed by the airport to go to school. I remember seeing the Boeing 747 takeoff and land. I was intrigued that something that big and heavy could fly. I developed an interest in aerodynamics at a young age and joined the science club in high school. I interned at NASA in Langley, Virginia during my senior year of high school and that’s when I knew that aerospace engineering was the field for me.
Tiera Fletcher (TF) : Since the age of six, I’ve had a passion for mathematics, science, and technology. As an accountant, my mother encouraged me to delve deeper into my passion for mathematics. My mother gave me tasks such as calculating the total amount of groceries including price reductions from coupons and the addition of tax. At the age of eleven, I participated in a program by Lockheed Martin that taught the fundamentals of aerospace engineering. Aerospace engineering merged my passions of being an architect, inventor, mathematician, scientist and designer.
Myron Fletcher, an engineer at The Boeing Company, talks about the Space Launch System (SLS) program and the…www.pbslearningmedia.org
HA : Can you discuss your favorite aspect of the SLS project, as well as one of the hardest challenges you faced thus far with the project ?
MF : After visiting the Saturn V at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama I knew that I wanted to be a part of a program that was doing something as great as sending humans to the moon. Today, we aren’t shooting for the moon — we are shooting for Mars. The average distance between Earth and Mars is 200 times as far as the Earth is from the moon. The rocket we are building will be bigger and powerful than anything the human mind can ever imagine. Since the SLS project is unprecedented in nature, there no is book or guide to base this project on. We are figuring it out as we go a long.
NASA’s Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket ever created in history. I am honored to say that I have a part in that history.
TF : NASA’s Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket ever created in history. I am honored to say that I have a part in that history. It is an honor to be able to look at a drawing of your creation and see it come to life as parts are being integrated and moved across the country. In the summer of 2016, after the completion of my junior year at MIT, I joined the SLS program. There is a learning curve working as a Rocket Scientist. However, I am surrounded by people who have spent years working on rockets and planes. These people have learned through successes and failures.
HA : How does faith play a role in your studies, career, and life?
Myron: It is because of my faith that I am who I am. I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and that He died on the cross for all my sins. My faith is what keeps, motivates, heals, delivers, guides, and strengthens me. At the core of my being is the decision I made to say yes to the will of God and no to my own.
My biggest challenge throughout my studies, career and life was believing in myself and I could not have come to the conclusion of believing in myself without having faith in God.
TF : My biggest challenge throughout my studies, career and life was believing in myself and I could not have come to the conclusion of believing in myself without having faith in God. Every obstacle that I have faced in life was overcome because of my faith. Every door that has opened for me is a testament of the grace of God. Without my faith, I would have given up on my dreams years ago. It was faith that placed me back on my feet when I failed my first exam and it was faith that encouraged me to apply to MIT on the last application submission date. Growing up, my mother instilled the following scripture in my mind, (Phil 4:13) “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” She had me recite that scripture before and after I went to school, whenever I was experiencing a success and whenever I was experiencing a failure. In moments of success or failure, I continue to give thanks to God. With a success, there is glory that I give to God. With a failure, there is a lesson and also glory that I give onto God for that lesson. My faith makes me who I am and grows me into what I am becoming.
We place limits on ourselves and we put ourselves in boxes we were never designed to fit in. Within each of us lies the tools that are necessary to do whatever we put our minds too.
HA : What would you say to someone who thinks that there is only a select few capable of doing big things?
MF : We place limits on ourselves and we put ourselves in boxes we were never designed to fit in. Within each of us, lies the tools that are necessary to do whatever we put our minds too. I was once told that if I could dream it I could achieve it. I wasn’t the smartest child in elementary school and I still remember the teachers who told me I was dumb and I would never amount to anything. This motivated me to prove others wrong. Live a life with no limits and always dream big. Remember, with dreams comes hard work.
I wasn’t the smartest child in elementary school and I still remember the teachers who told me I was dumb and I would never amount to anything. This motivated me to prove others wrong.
TF : Everyone is capable of their own success.The success of the next person is not your success to have. Your ability to achieve those dreams and goals is determined by yourself. My biggest enemy was myself. For years, I struggled with believing in my own capabilities and I would look at others to compare myself. I would tell myself that I was not smart enough, fast enough or just enough to even declare my goal of being an aerospace engineer. The first step of success is to believe in yourself. You have to open the door for yourself before anybody can open a door for you. Fight for your dreams and do not allow anyone to deter you from your dreams. By believing in yourself, you no longer have to depend on the approval or opinions of others.
HA : What are some goals that you have for the immediate future ?
MF : We are looking into public speaking, so you should see us around the world soon inspiring the youth and the old alike. Also, we are both in the process of writing books.
TF : A large goal of ours is to start a nonprofit organization for underrepresented youth, which focuses on Mathematics, Science, Technology, Engineering and Arts. In addition to this huge passion of ours, we are also looking forward to continuing our one-on-one mentoring efforts and furthering our aerospace engineering careers at The Boeing Company.