Florence Tan

NASA deputy chief technologist to visit Penn State New Kensington for lecture and reception

Florence Tan visit planned for March 28

Penn State New Kensington welcomes Florence Tan, deputy chief technologist at the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA headquarters, for a lecture and reception on March 28. The lecture will be held in the campus' Forum Theatre from 12:10 p.m. to 1:10 p.m. The reception will occur immediately following the speaking engagement in the Theatre Lobby.

About the speaker: 

Despite being discouraged from majoring in aerospace engineering by a school counselor, Florence Tan prevailed and made her way to an engineering school and parlayed her networking skills into an internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Over the years, Tan has been a systems engineer, designer, manager and instrument operator at Goddard and helped build, launch and operate many space flight mass spectrometers on the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover, Cassini Orbiter, Cassini-Huygens Probe, MAVEN, LADEE and ExoMars spacecraft.

She is now the Deputy Chief Technologist at the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters. She works with the Chief Technologist surveying and assessing technology needs for the Heliophysics, Astrophysics, Earth Science, and Planetary Science Divisions, and as a liaison with the NASA Office of Chief Technologist, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and the Space Technology Mission Directorate. She also dedicates her time to reach out to STEM students and the community. She has been University of Maryland School of Engineering's commencement speaker, has spoken and presented at K-12 schools, retirement communities and town forums across the United States.

Tan has always been a community organizer and serial volunteer. She was the key person in establishing NASA Goddard’s first lactation room in 1999. She was the President of the Goddard Chinese American Club in 2005, as well as a member of Goddard’s Women’s Advisory Committee and the chair of Take Our Daughters to Work Day at NASA Goddard in 2000. She has received numerous awards including the NASA Medal for Exceptional Achievement, Robert Goddard Award for Outreach, Solar System Exploration Special Award Act and numerous Goddard Special Act Awards and Goddard Peer Awards.

Tan holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland, an M.S. in electrical engineering and an M.B.A. in e-commerce from Johns Hopkins University.