31 August 2020
As the Perseverance rover heads towards Mars, back on Earth, a crew of engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are supporting the Mars 2020 mission. One of those people is systems engineer Heather Ann Bottom. With a bachelor’s in astrophysics and a master’s in space engineering, she certainly fits the bill. But Bottom has a few extra qualifications on her resumé: She was a Rockette in New York City and in the Broadway national tour of A Chorus Line.
Careers in the arts and engineering might seem like polar opposites. But Bottom, 32, sees the benefits of applying her dance experience to her current role. “I have been able to recognize, as a dancer, what my strengths are,” she says. “Things like picking up choreography really quickly, being a visual learner are important to recognize. Then I can take that into my job and say, ‘Oh, the reason I’m getting this so quickly is because I’m a dancer. I understand it. I can put the steps together in my head.’ ”
“Or many times, I’ve related these grand, large-scale tests in the engineering world to like a dance performance—you have all the different players and they need to be in their spots at the right time and read the script correctly and all of that. Wherever I can recognize, ‘Oh, that’s a part of my dance self or my performing self that is now coming into the engineering world’ has really helped me embrace both sides.”
But this balance of dance and science wasn’t always a constant in her life.
Read the full article from Dance Magazine here.