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José M. Hernández



NASA engineer Jose Hernandez wanted to fly in space ever since he heard that the first Hispanic-American had been chosen to travel into space. “I was hoeing a row of sugar beets in a field near Stockton, California, and I heard on my transistor radio that Franklin Chang -Diaz had been selected for the Astronaut Corps," says Hernandez, who was a senior in high school at the time. "I was already interested in science and engineering," Hernandez remembers, "but that was the moment I said, 'I want to fly in space.' And that's something I've been striving for each day since then." And now that hard work has paid off. He was selected to begin training as a mission specialist as part of the 2004 astronaut candidate class.

One of four children in a migrant farming family from Mexico, Hernandez -- who didn't learn English until he was 12 years old -- spent much of his childhood on what he calls "the California circuit," traveling with his family from Mexico to southern California each March, then working northward to the Stockton area by November, picking strawberries and cucumbers at farms along the route. Then they would return to Mexico for Christmas, and start the cycle all over again come spring.

 

"Some kids might think it would be fun to travel like that," Hernandez laughs, "but we had to work. It wasn't a vacation."

After graduating high school in Stockton, Hernandez enrolled at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering and was awarded a full scholarship to the graduate program at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where he continued his engineering studies. In 1987, he accepted a full-time job with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he had worked as a co-op in college.

While at Lawrence Livermore, Hernandez worked on signal and image processing applications in radar imaging, computed tomography, and acoustic imaging. Later in his career, Hernandez worked on developing quantitative x-ray film imaging analysis techniques for the x-ray laser program. Hernandez applied these techniques in the medical physics arena and co-developed the first full-field digital mammography imaging system. This system has proven useful for detecting breast cancer at an earlier stage than present film/screen mammography techniques. Hernandez has won recognition awards for his work on this project. He has also worked in the international arena where he represented Lawrence Livermore and the U.S. Department of Energy on Russian nuclear non-proliferation issues.

During the astronaut application process, Hernandez had to meet with a review board. That's where he came face-to-face with his original inspiration: Franklin Chang-Diaz.

"It was a strange place to find myself, being evaluated by the person who gave me the motivation to get there in the first place," Hernandez says. "But I found that we actually had common experiences -- a similar upbringing, the same language issues.

That built up my confidence. Any barriers that existed, he had already hurdled them." Hernandez smiles. "Now it's my turn!"

 

José M. Hernández

 

El ingeniero de la NASA José Hernández quiso volar al espacio desde que escuchó que el primer hispanoamericano había sido elegido para viajar al espacio. "Estaba cavando una hilera de remolachas azucareras en un campo cerca de Stockton, California, y escuché en mi radio transistor que Franklin Chang-Díaz había sido seleccionado para el Cuerpo de Astronautas", dice Hernández, quien estaba en el último año de la escuela secundaria en el "Ya estaba interesado en la ciencia y la ingeniería", recuerda Hernández, "pero ese fue el momento en que dije: 'Quiero volar al espacio'. Y eso es algo por lo que me he esforzado cada día desde entonces". Y ahora ese duro trabajo ha dado sus frutos. Fue seleccionado para comenzar a entrenarse como especialista en misiones como parte de la clase de candidatos a astronautas de 2004.

 

Hernández, uno de los cuatro hijos de una familia de agricultores inmigrantes de México, que no aprendió inglés hasta los 12 años, pasó gran parte de su infancia en lo que él llama "el circuito de California", viajando con su familia desde México. al sur de California cada marzo, y luego trabaja hacia el norte hasta el área de Stockton en noviembre, recogiendo fresas y pepinos en granjas a lo largo de la ruta. Luego regresarían a México para Navidad y comenzarían el ciclo nuevamente en la primavera.

 

"Algunos niños podrían pensar que sería divertido viajar así", se ríe Hernández, "pero teníamos que trabajar. No eran vacaciones".

 

Después de graduarse de la escuela secundaria en Stockton, Hernández se matriculó en la Universidad del Pacífico en Stockton, donde obtuvo un título en ingeniería eléctrica y recibió una beca completa para el programa de posgrado de la Universidad de California en Santa Bárbara, donde continuó sus estudios de ingeniería. estudios. En 1987, aceptó un trabajo de tiempo completo en el Laboratorio Nacional Lawrence Livermore, donde había trabajado como

una cooperativa en la universidad.

 

Mientras estuvo en Lawrence Livermore, Hernández trabajó en aplicaciones de procesamiento de señales e imágenes en imágenes de radar, tomografía computarizada e imágenes acústicas. Más adelante en su carrera, Hernández trabajó en el desarrollo de técnicas cuantitativas de análisis de imágenes de películas de rayos X para el programa de láser de rayos X. Hernández aplicó estas técnicas



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