Jennifer Turner-Valle
Jennifer Turner-Valle
New Business Manager, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.
Longmont, CO

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Close Up
  • What I Do
    I design optical instruments for spacecraft. Recently I spend the majority of my time working with astronomers studying stars and scientists who study weather and the earth to design instruments that measure important parameters for their models, for example, ozone content at different altitudes in the atmosphere.
  • Why Engineering?
    I chose engineering because I am good at math and science and enjoy understanding how things work, fixing broken things, and occasionally breaking things.
  • School Days
    I hold a B.S. in Engineering Physics from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona's Optical Sciences Center.
  • My Day At Work
    Typically I will do the initial optical design, present that design to our science customers, determine the cost to build the instrument, and write proposals to get funding from the government. During this design process I work together with engineers from other specialties to negotiate the best solution for our conflicting requirements and ensure that the entire system will fit inside our cost cap and meet the science requirements. Sometimes I will be called in to a group of engineers from many disciplines to help troubleshoot problems on space-bound instruments built by other engineers.
  • Best Part
    Solving problems and troubleshooting performance issues in optical systems is both frustrating and rewarding, but very much like reading and solving a good mystery novel. Identifying the problem, then the solution, and finally implementing the fix is very satisfying
  • Proud Moments
    I did the detailed optical design work for the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 instrument which is scheduled for installation in May 2009. My second favorite accomplishment is my work as the optical designer and system engineer for the NASA MESSENGER mission Mercury Atmospheric Space and Composition spectrometer which will insert into orbit around Mercury in 2011.
  • My Family
    My husband, Tim, is also an engineer and we enjoy spending our free time hiking with our white german shepherd, Tika.
  • Want to be an Engineer?
    Take math and science courses whenever possible; don't avoid the hard classes- you can't find out how good you are if you don't challenge yourself. Try everything, including things you aren't good at or don't think you will be good at, to learn what you like doing best.
  • Additional Thoughts
    Take math and science courses whenever possible; don't avoid the hard classes- you can't find out how good you are if you don't challenge yourself.
  • Hobbies
    Before the arrival of our puppy, I spent fifteen years playing competitive and recreational ice hockey on women's and co-ed teams. When I can find the time these days, I enjoy volunteering at the Butterfly Pavilion, an invertebrate conservatory in Westminster, Colorado.
I have been working for roughly 15 years in aerospace remote sensing in roles ranging from designing optical imaging systems and spectrometers to leading teams that propose and win new business.
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Ph.D. Optical Sciences M.S. Optical Sciences B.S. Engineering Physics
Volunteer Opportunities
  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
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