February 4, 2022 - By Rosie Howe
If determination was a person, I believe Thomas Ivanco would be it! After listening to his story on Marco and Ericas #TALKSHOW, I’m sure you will too. For a bit of background, he is an Aerospace engineer at one of NASA’s research centers in Virginia, USA- impressive, I know!
I’m going to explain how he went from zero to hero (in the space world) in just a few pages…to hear it from Thomas himself watch the full episode now!
How did Ivanco Get Started?
Thomas explains to Erica and Marco that it all started with his big brother, he inspired him to go into engineering just like he did, with a hefty age gap of 17 years, Thomas’s first memory of his brother was him going off to university to study engineering. He goes on to explain how he has always been fascinated by aircrafts and when he was younger he “built a parachute out of garbage bags and jumped off a hill in my backyard”, this initiated lots of laughs…however his mother wasn’t as amused at the time.
Fast forward to his adolescent life and Ivanco actually attended 2 different universities to study aerospace engineering, for the people who aren’t engineers, this is essentially studying “vibrations of structures”. On top of this, he was also in the military and has continued to do this; among many things he was able to fly helicopters, which is something he has always been interested in and used his engineering knowledge to better this skill. A little insight into his career in NASA- he is currently working on making helicopters quieter, his life is very interconnected. Thomas has made it clear that he always wanted to go into engineering, more specifically aircraft but how did he land a place in NASA?
If Determination was a Person…
I’m sure we can all imagine that getting hired by NASA is a challenging goal and one that would take lots of studying, hard work and charisma, so how did Thomas do it? “I sent my resume in every week for a year straight” – now that’s determination! Erica and Marco then asked, “did you update it when you would send it every week, or was it the same resume and cover letter?”He replied that he would regularly update it because he had “thought of a better way to say something or learnt something new to add on”. Anyone out there who is trying to land their dream job, try this method and it might just work! Ivanco bounced off of Erica and Marco’s energy and there were lots of laughs and jokes throughout the episode, one of these moments included him telling them how he sent his resume to the same person each time, Elaine Goss, and when he finally got hired she was the one who gave him his briefing, onboarding and instructed the students- that must have been a funny meeting!
Although Ivanco’s tactic was amusing it showed clear determination and is important to remember that he did in fact try for a year and didn’t give up; even after he was given the opportunity it was only an internship, which isn’t a fully paid job with security. After trying so hard to get in, he still had to work hard to move further up the company, looking at his position now, it was definitely worth it!
Working for such a well-known, important company must come with a lot of pressure and a particular personality to want to take this on; Ivanco even said himself that it takes a big ego to want to take on a mission or project that no-one has ever done before. Everyone that works at NASA is very curious and has the mindset that failure means the “problem is even cooler than once thought” and this came from Thomas himself. He admitted that when working on a project a while ago, he “screwed up the numbers” because he wanted the graph to look “pretty”, he had to accept he was wrong and redo the graph; accepting your faults is critical in NASA as things go wrong unexpectedly, the team then has to resolve the problem, without someone accepting their fault, it is hard to do this.
So, what’s Thomas doing now?Let’s ask him…
Life after NASA- “There’s few things I would change about my life”
Although Thomas still works for NASA, his life has changed dramatically since he started there, he now has a wife and 2 kids. He met his wife, Marie, while on a trip with the military in Kosovo, he persuaded her to move to Virginia with him where she fell in love with his passion and job; Marie then went back to college to study engineering and also got a job at NASA- they are one smart family!
He admits that his job is quite flexible, Covid-19 has meant he is encouraged to work from home…like everyone else at the moment; so when he isn’t working on a project he can choose when he is working and fit it around his family’s needs- living every parent’s dream!
As mentioned before, when Thomas is assigned to a project it is very hands on; he and his team “need to be left alone for hours” to research and simply just think. Although he is flexible at times, his job is not a walk in the park and often needs his undivided time.
Erica raised the question “if you could go back and change anything, would you?”Thomas replied that he couldn’t think of much he would change, clearly the year he spent sending his resume in over and over again was worth it, it isn’t often when someone doesn’t want to change anything in their life.
After reading this, I hope you have an understanding of the amazing life Thomas Ivanco is living, he works for NASA- every little boy and girl’s dream! He is an example that hard work and determination really does pay off, to hear everything he has to say, watch the full episode now streaming on Britalians TV where you’ll see the bubbly, friendly and passionate side of Thomas!