Meet Hibah Rehmani, a Leading Avionics and Flight Control Engineer at NASA – How Her Hardships and Miseries Served As Catalyst For Her Passion
A Pakistani born lady who survived from gulf crises of 1990, who remained as refugee in desert of Iraq and Jorden, is now at an important position of Flight Control Engineer at NASA Engineering and Technology Directorate. She supports Expendable Launch Vehicle countdowns at Kennedy’s Launch Services Program. In many situations a space shuttles can fly only with her permission.
This is the story of Hibah Rehmani, a Pakistani born woman who confronted all odds and secured leading position at world’s leading space organization.
Hibah Rehmani's Dreams Growing Up!
Hiba was just a month old when her family left Pakistan and moved to Kuwait where she spent her childhood in peaceful Gulf, until Gulf Crises during Iraq-Kuwait War in early 90’s, as she said;
“My fondest memory is walking with family at night, in desert or on sidewalk by the (Persian) Gulf, seeing up at the sky to admire the stars, and thinking about Neil Armstrong and other alike astronauts who have stepped on moon,” she said. “It was around that time I developed a passion for science, space & astronomy.”
How Toughest Situations At Refugee's Camp Became a Catalysts for Hibah's Dreams
“My family arrived late at night, we couldn’t get tent as all were taken by others, Even though this was a tough time for us, one thing I remember from that night a nice view of the sky with the shining moon and stars, while trying to sleep on cold sand. It reminded me of my dreams and goals.”
After a short stay in Jordan, Hiba with her sister and mother moved back to Pakistan and she reunited with her father, who was in America at the time of Kuwait invasion. This whole incident served as the catalyst for her newfound love, and determination to make her way to study more about Stars – NASA.
Hibah's Passion For Maths And Science
As US-Led coalition ended Gulf War in February 1991 and Hiba with her family moved back to Kuwait. After high school, she completed her bachelor’s in computer engineering from University of Central Florida and then begin her career as system engineer for Boeing at International Space Station.
"My parents always emphasized the value of a hard work and good education," Rahmani said. "Science and Math were my favorite subjects. Math was also my father’s favorite and he always tell me to try to get 100% marks on math tests."
"I remember physics being my first hard class and I didn’t performed well on first exam. I spent hours in library, reading books and practicing problems of physics. In final exam, I needed to get exactly a 100 marks to get an 'A'. I couldn’t believe, I received a 105 and even got the bonus question right.” She further added "This reemphasized to me that anything is possible with dedication and hard work, and to never give up on your goals and dreams," she said.
Her Determination Towards Her Goal
“I was involved with integrated testing of ISS components and occasionally astronauts would stop by to either view or participate in the testing,” Hiba Rahmani further said. "At that time that I developed a desire to become an astronaut and step ahead toward that goal."
Hibah’s strong desire led her to complete her Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2005.
Hibah Rehmani's Assignments At Nasa
She accepted the position of Rocket Engineer at NASA’s Engineering And Technology Directorate at Kennedy.
“I support NASA’s Launch Services Program, working on expendable launch vehicles like Pegasus XL and Falcon 9.”
Hibah added, “I provide technical expertise, perform data reviews, follow launch vehicle testing and provide the technical assessment of engineering issues.”
Falcon 9 is the SpaceX launch vehicle
Falcon 9 is the SpaceX launch vehicle used to boost the Dragon spacecraft for space station resupply missions and has also been selected to launch the Jason-3 spacecraft.
Pegasus is Orbital Science Corp.'s
Pegasus is Orbital Science Corp.'s rocket dropped from beneath an L-1011 aircraft for launching payloads such as NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) solar observatory. Falcon 9 is the SpaceX launch vehicle used to boost the Dragon spacecraft for space station resupply missions and has also been selected to launch the Jason-3 spacecraft.
Hibah Rehmani's Message To Youth
Hibah says “The most exciting moment of her work life is to watch rocket take off from launch pad and go into space.”
Her strong passion is evident from her voluntary social activities and inspiring others. She says, I love to inspire, I speak to students about my career and have judged a science fair.
She also updates the real-time NASA’s LSP Facebook and Twitter accounts during launch countdown when she isn’t at the support to mission staff.
Her Message to Youth
“I have privilege to work with an amazing team, my key to success is to set very higher goals” she added, “my life experience taught me dream big and never give up, as you can achieve what you want with hard work.”
Her message to youth, particularly girls, “be focused and dream big”, this remained her philosophy since she fell in love with stars in desolate desert in Jordan.
Hibah Rehmani's Complete Interview
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