First Generation Martian, TED Speaker, Interplanetary Storyteller, & Space Exploration Engineer
Nagin has been exploring since she decided as a teenager that she wanted to work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She was born in Bangalore, India, and grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Growing up as a young woman in a Muslim/multicutural household showed her how easily we separate ourselves based on gender, race, or nationality, and inspired her to do something that brings people together instead of dividing them. The Space Program helps the world “look up” and remember that we are one world. Thus, she has known from the time she was 14 years old that she wanted to work on missions of robotic space exploration. Read More >
TED: What Time Is It on Mars?
In 2004, 2012, and now in Feb 2021, Nagin Cox was in mission control when the famed Mars Rovers landed on the Red Planet. As part of the courageous and inventive teams at NASA’s legendary Jet Propulsion Laboratory that take humanity’s first steps out of the driveway, Nagin tells interplanetary stories of the people behind the missions that explore our solar system robotically. She is a “first-generation Martian”, and has shared NASA stories worldwide as an award-winning, STEM speaker for the US State Department. Read More >
Nagin’s story of her nontraditional journey to NASA to is filled with the importance of diversity in skill sets and insights on how perseverance pays off - especially in a pandemic. In 2020, the whole planet suddenly got a crash course in the kind of working in isolation that is a huge part of space exploration. Stories of space exploration have an enduring ability to inspire and motivate people all over the world and to cut through political/cultural issues and remind us what humankind can do together. This popular presentation highlights the challenges that ensue when humans try to live on one planet and work on another. Nagin has more humorous and light-hearted stories of the people behind the missions than there is time to tell. Read Less ^
TED Speaker Nagin Cox has been working at NASA’s legendary Jet Propulsion Laboratory and has participated in some of the most exciting moments in space exploration such as being in Mission Control for the Feb 2021 landings of the Mars2020 Perseverance Rover. Through her nontraditional journey to NASA, Nagin has amassed a set of workplace lessons on her journey in a male-dominated field. When Nagin set her sights on NASA, she was warned that she would never be happy because her strengths were not in math and science. She has now been working for NASA and the space industry for over 30 years and every day has been as rewarding as the first! The surprising thing is how many years it took her to truly understand the dangers of imposter syndrome and the importance of differing skill sets across academia, industry and the space agencies. Nagin has unintentionally amassed a body of lessons learned in inclusion, diversity and coping as she has had the chance to work alongside some of the world’s brightest engineers and scientists. She has both engineering degrees and a degree in psychology and she sometimes amusingly is not sure which one she uses more as she works with these amazing innovators.
TED Speaker Nagin Cox has had the privilege of being a system engineer specializing in space operations in the US Military, the private sector and for NASA. The cultures are both the same and radically different. Sending missions to other plans are exercises in engineering and innovation that apply to space as well as earth challenges. Nagin has unintentionally amassed a body of lessons learned in leadership, system engineering and STEM as she has had the chance to work alongside some of the worlds brightest engineers and scientists. She has both engineering degrees and a degree in psychology and she sometimes amusingly is not sure which one she uses more as she works with these amazing innovators.
"What an inspirational and incredible message you shared."
"Your story regarding little girls being told they're worthless is what caught my attention. I had a childhood seeped in disrespect and under appreciation towards women as well. I wish more little girls could be inspired by women like yourself. I wanted to let you know, this morning when I really needed it, I found inspiration in your story."
"I have shared my experience of your presentation at the CLM event in 2015 and just how inspirational it was for both myself and the entire audience. The combination of overcoming engineering challenges on the Mars mission and STEM challenges in school was fascinating. One of the best ever!"
"Her visit to Brazil changed my life and of young students who witnessed the lecture given by her."
"Ms. Cox gave a passionate talk on her involvement with the Galileo mission to Jupiter and her transition into the Mars missions. It was one of the best talks ever experienced [in over 35 years of planetarium conferences]. We strongly recommends her as a speaker!"
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