photo of Charles Mallini
Branch Chief of WB-57F Program, NASA Johnson Space Center

Job Title

Branch Chief of WB-57F Program


NASA Johnson Space Center


Ellington Field, TX

Why did you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree?

Growing up we always saw launches like the Mercury flights, the Gemini flights, and the Apollo flights. It was just exciting, and things were happening rapidly. That’s where I went, “Man, that’s great. That’s the kinds of stuff I’d like to do.”

Do you recommend any particular focus for students other than academics to improve themselves as potential candidates for jobs?

Students should take courses in which they can improve their communication and people skills. The people they may have to deal with may be difficult. They should be able to build good relationships, trust, and know how to work with people in a positive way. Over time you will start dealing with people from different generations, so you just have to be able to understand why people feel the way they do so that you can understand them.

Are there courses at UT you wish you had taken? If so, which ones and why?

In hindsight, I wish I had a little more history. As you get older you tend to have more focus on understanding why things happen to get to where you are today. The other one is physical education. I wish I had taken advantage of the physical education classes. To me it would have been nice to have a variety of things to have done.

What are your career goals?

To be productive and continue what I am doing. I’ve done some mentoring at work and I’d like to do more. It’s to keep doing good stuff and challenging work.

Who was your most influential ASE or EM professor and why?

Hands down Dr. Fowler would be my most influential professor. He was just loaded with energy. He was a great teacher and you never had to worry about falling asleep in class. Every once in a while you came across a professor that sort of had an attitude and that didn’t associate with the students. That was not Dr. Fowler. He was always happy, prepared, organized, and had good notes to help you. He was just an outstanding professor. He was just personable.

What has been your most influential ASE or EM course and why?

Dr. Fowler’s flight-testing course because it was a hands-on class, it taught you procedures, and how to write test plans and reports. There were many aspects rolled into one class.

What is one piece of advice you have for our students?

You have a great opportunity, make use of it. There are two pieces to it: study hard, develop those study habits, and have fun. Those two don’t sound like they go together but you can. Don’t waste your time while you’re here. Have a good time, enjoy it, but make use of it.

Do you have a favorite memory as a UT aerospace student?

When you’re here, there are no good memories. It’s like, “Holly smokes, I’m stressed out!” When you are out for a few years, it’s like the best time of your life.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

NASA always has a number of co-ops at the center. When I was onsite, a couple of times there were these summer programs just for high school students. You would work with them, give them a project and let them work on it. I wasn’t sure how the high school students were going to work, but that turned out to be pretty nice. I thought I was going to get some high school kids that could barely take care of themselves, but they knew more than some of the engineers. So I enjoy mentoring.