First Woman Mechanical Engineer for NASAs SimLab
As a child, Julie Mikula was fascinated with the principles of flight. She wanted to know, “how does an airplane fly? At age 10, while watching the Apollo Mission moon landing, she set a goal: to concentrate on science and engineering, earn a college degree and land a position with NASA. Julie’s parents supported her endeavors, even in an era and an environment when it was uncommon for women to pursue non-traditional careers.
Julie not only found a position with NASA but has advanced from mechanical engineer to manager of the world‚s premier Flight Simulation Laboratories (SimLab) facility, which consists of the world‚s largest motion base simulator, the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS).
Her first position at NASA consisted of mechanical engineering in the design and building of aircraft simulation cockpit interiors. Among these simulation cockpits were rotorcraft simulation cockpits (XV-15, Blackhawks – UH60, V-22), fighter aircraft or short takeoff and vertical landing type aircraft (Harriers, YAV8B) and the space shuttle orbiter simulation cockpits.
In managing people, Julie stresses the strength of team building, unifying goals and acknowledging diversity as an advantage. She has been a most successful leader and NASA has seen the SimLab facilities grow and continue to be the world renowned facility that it is today. Julie has received more than 18 awards and honors in her NASA career.
Julie continually makes presentations to all levels of government and industry as well as schools and colleges. Not only is she involved with aviation and aerospace but she is a wife, mother of two children and she even planned, designed and was the general contractor of her 3,600 square-foot log home. Julie Mikula is a great role model who is paving the way for others.