By Todd R. Michaelis, ’90
For Aaron D. Gilchrist, ’96 (Carrie), it took a heat transfer class at BYU to spark his interest in what would become a stellar career. “I found the topic of heat transfer interesting, and performing lab experiments was fun,” Gilchrist says.
As an intern Gilchrist worked as a thermal engineer at Lockheed Martin on NASA‘s Mars program. The program consisted of the Climate Orbiter, which was designed to orbit and map the surface of Mars, and the Polar Lander, destined to land near the Martian south pole. “They both failed,” Gilchrist says, “but it didn’t have anything to do with heat transfer.” Gilchrist also helped to design and test the Mars Odyssey, which now orbits Mars and provides some of the sharpest images of the planet to date.
Gilchrist’s involvement with satellites has given him a different perspective when he gazes into the night sky. “It is satisfying to be a part of technology that is helping us better understand what is in space,” he says.