Words of Wisdom from Women in STEM: Krystal Puga, Spacecraft Systems Engineer with Northrop Grumman Space Systems Division

A Day in Space will be an excellent opportunity to talk with real engineers, rocket scientists and researchers and find out more about how they made it. We’re proud to include several women in the field, many of whom are first-generation Latinas. We spoke to a few to gain some insight on their background and what mindset has helped them succeed as a woman in the space or STEM industry.

Krystal Puga is a Spacecraft Systems Engineer with Northrop Grumman Space Systems Division in Redondo Beach, CA. She is a hardware deputy for the deployment mechanisms on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, whose mission is to observe the formation of the first galaxies, understand birth place of stars, image exoplanets and search for the very first light that formed in the universe.

Krystal is passionate about space education, as a founder of the Northrop Grumman High School Innovation Challenge; she has developed several engineering competitions to promote STEM education. Krystal developed a STEM High School Internship Program for students from underserved communities. She previously served as the president of the Los Angeles Mars Society, and created the annual Mars DAY STEM Initiative. Krystal has also served as a Hispanic Hero for the Los Angeles Hispanic Youth Institute since 2009.

Krystal’s advice to all potential STEM male or female students are:

  1. You can be successful in your career if you are passionate about your industry/trade.  That passion will drive how hard you work and will push you past difficult situations.
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is a learning opportunity that will make you stronger.
  3. You don’t need to be a straight A student to be an engineer or scientist. You just need to be determined and work hard.

Krystal is a first generation Latina from Tulare, CA, an agricultural city in the San Joaquin Valley. She holds a Masters of Science in Astronautical Engineering from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida.

Krystal will lead the Breakout session: “Seeing the Universe in a new light with the James Webb Telescope,” where she will explain the new way we can see space, the birth of new galaxies, search planets for signs of life supporting atmospheres. This session is as visual as it is interesting and offers a Q & A opportunity at the end.