Jason Davis isn’t an engineer but that doesn’t stop him from writing about it. The Fairmont native spent many years in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, first as a student, then as a student worker, before embarking on a career that would eventually lead him back to the engineering industry.
Growing up in the Mountain State, there was never any question that Davis would attend West Virginia University. Fascinated with the engineering behind rocket launches, Davis enrolled in the aerospace engineering program in 1999. He was a straight-A student in high school, but without the prerequisite calculus classes required for success in the program, Davis struggled.
He did, however, find success as a student worker in the Statler College’s computer labs. What started as a job monitoring the computer labs soon turned into a job with many tasks where he made his knack for computers known.
“Once the IT Department realized what I could do, I became a systems administrator, traveling around campus fixing computers, and also building all the software images used in the labs,” said Davis. “When I started looking for a new major, this experience helped me find the right fit.”
Davis switched his major to management information systems in the College of Business and Economics and continued to work in the computer labs until his graduation in 2005. He then began a seven year career as an information technology consultant in Washington, D.C., then Chicago, Illinois, before hitting a crossroads.
“I was in between jobs and generally burned out, so I started writing about spaceflight in my free time,” said Davis. “After creating my own blog and guest writing, I found I liked writing about space much more than I liked working in IT. It’s my first love.”
Davis made the decision to go back to school to become a professional science writer. After being accepted to several schools, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Davis accepted a full scholarship to the University of Arizona, a school known as a hub for planetary science and astronomy.
While at the University of Arizona, Davis was awarded a NASA Space Grant Graduate Fellowship. As a Fellow, Davis had to propose a project that would further public understanding of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
Davis used his platform to produce a documentary on the history of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, which played a significant role in the scientific effort behind the moon landings.
“I love the sense of hope and wonder that space exploration offers,” said Davis. “To me, exploration is one of the purest expressions of what it means to be human, and spaceflight is all about exploration.”
Today, Davis talks about spaceflight as a space news reporter for The Planetary Society. He covers LightSail, The Planetary Society’s small spacecraft designed to test solar sailing technologies, and NASA’s human and commercial spaceflight programs.
“My typical day involves writing, researching and calling in to LightSail meetings or NASA News conferences,” said Davis. “Getting to satisfy my curiosity about spaceflight and being able to tell others about it through my writing is a fantastic way to spend the day.”
CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
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