Engineering Project Manager
NASA Kennedy Space Center
Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering
JC Perez is a 2016 graduate of UCF, with his Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and was also the first Director of Interns for the eli2 intern group. He is now living his professional dreams with a new role at NASA Kennedy Space Center! He remains a dedicated alumnus, frequent volunteer and is always showing his pride as a UCF Knight. Learn more about him below!
What is your current position/employer?
Engineering Project Manager at NASA Kennedy Space Center in the Ground Communications, Project Management Office (PMO)
How long have you been in this role?
I started this new role in October of 2021
What are your main responsibilities/duties?
Most of my responsibilities and duties fall under the technical project management where I lead various projects through design, procurement, implementation and operation for multiple customers across NASA Kennedy Space Center including Exploration Ground Systems (EGS), Spaceport Integration Services and other programs and directorates.
What do you consider your proudest professional/career accomplishment so far?
From a personal perspective, I have always dreamed at working for NASA, specifically Kennedy Space Center since I was in fifth grade. I started working at NASA as a contractor in 2019 and in October 2021 I was offered a Civil Servant position – a direct government employee. I am very proud and grateful to have put in about two and a half years and getting picked up by NASA because of my work ethic and technical knowledge.
How did UCF prepare you for your career?
UCF provided me the opportunity to join the Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute (eli2) and explore how my engineering technical skills could be applied to various areas outside of engineering and getting the technical foundation to build upon when I started in the Aerospace industry.
Describe a moment that you felt particularly proud to be a UCF Knight:
I always feel proud to be a Knight because of the ability I have to mentor, talk with, and interact with current students who are going through some of the same issues I went through at UCF regarding career planning or what to get involved in. I am also proud of UCF’s Diversity and Inclusion which is a big part of my values.
Who was one of your favorite (or most memorable) UCF professors and what would you say to that professor today?
Dr. Ricardo Zaurin is one of the professors that really stood out to me during my time at UCF. He taught Engineering Statics, an introductory course to “real” engineering and is required to move forward in the engineering curriculum. Something I would say to Dr. Zaurin is how thankful and grateful I am to have been in his class, and to have connected with him even after I completed his course. He inspired me to continue to be involved in eli2 because he exemplified someone trying to help students learn skills that can be applied everywhere.
Have you stayed in close contact with any of your fellow Knights?
YES! A good majority of people entered the aerospace industry with me and I do keep in contact with them. Specifically close contacts are those from the eli2 program and new knights that I met while leading one of our UCF Knight communities in Texas.
What would you say to a prospective student who is considering UCF to study engineering/computer science?
I would say to them that 1) you don’t have to have everything figured out about what you want to pursue – pick an area of interest that you want to get involved in and even as an incoming student, get involved in engineering clubs and try your area out. If you don’t like it, you’ll know immediately and you can explore another engineering discipline. 2) GET INVOLVED. Without involvement in all that UCF offers, you are not experiencing everything that UCF can provide. Whether it’s events, clubs, meetings, products, you name it – go out and do it. I was surprised as a student at all the different areas that offer something – such as money for conferences, activities, travel abroad. Never be afraid to ask and never rule yourself out, without asking first.
What’s on the horizon for you? (Any aspirations that you still want to achieve?)
With the onset of commercialization of space, I want to set my focus on the moon, mars and beyond (specifically Titan – one of Saturn’s moons). I want to move into a role where I can be at the forefront of planning infrastructure and missions for life beyond Earth and contributing to human spaceflight in the solar system.