Roberto Carlino, an Italian success branded NASA

IMG_5408There are people who are dreaming of traveling into the Space and going to Mars  on board of Super Shuttles and there are young people who realizes their dreams by designing and building those satellites and those Shuttle. Among these, there is the Italian Roberto Carlino, twenty six year old Italian engineer, graduated with honors at the University Federico II of Naples, ignored by many Italian Companies, whom seized the opportunity offered by none other than NASA. Today He is looking at the Belpaese from California, working on aerospace engineering projects, on which he puts proudly his “made in Italy” signature.

NASA portraitRoberto, where does your passion for aerospace engineering comes from? Can you tell about your studies too?

It all started when I was 12 and in Junior High I to used watch documentaries about astronomy and read many books about space, dreaming of becoming an astronaut. Then in Senior High School I continued to fuel this passion and studied cosmology and was fascinated by the technologies used in the construction of satellites and probes.

Afterwards I graduated in 2013 at the University of Naples Federico II.

I also had the opportunity to study abroad: in Holland for six months of Erasmus, then in Brussels, where I did an internship of four months to prepare my thesis on the aerodynamics micro gravitational, for which I got a “Cum Laude”.

After degree in Engineering what did you do?

I started sending my resume to several companies but most of the time I didn’t even got an answer, and landing an interview was even harder.

So I took 8 months off and I went to Australia and New Zealand to work as a bartender. I wanted to experience life.

Then I heard about a master in Italy, so I came back and I did it for a year, thanks to which I was able to visit many companies in California, including NASA. I have made contact with some of the American leaders and I’ve been suggested for an interview in order to a possible internship.

Back in Italy, shortly after, NASA contacted me incredibly giving me an interview via Skype, which was followed by exchanges of emails and a final telephone interview. Being fluent in English helped me a lot. So here I am!

How do you see Italy from far away?

I see Italy pretty lost. Looking from far away, it looks like a Third World country with no clear signs of hope for a real recovery.

What career expectations did you plan for your future?

Living in Califaorna gives more chances of a career growth.  I will be working here an executive for at least 4 years with the chance to fulfill my dream to work on a new space project.

What about your dream of becoming an astronaut?

I currently set it aside, but you never know! Even though I keep on being prepared: I am a certified parachutist and scuba diver. The path to become an astronaut is really long and very hard. It’s definitely my ultimate dream.

Are there other Italians working with you at NASA?

Very few of them. My supervisor is Italian, though.

LAJPL-3762What kind of projects are you working on?

The division I work deals with micro satellite, from concept development to design. Then I’m working on a  telecommunications project calles “Small sat light force” that uses laser stations from Earth that push the trajectory of the satellite in order to avoid the collision. In the beginning, I was very skeptical given its complexity, but after working on it, I realized its feasibility. Another project we are working on is called “Mars Sample Return”, the mission that involves sending a probe on Mars for the future recovery of rock samples. We also have some other groups who proposes futuristic projects that will need years of work.

What do you think is the X-Factor needed to be successful in America?

Kindness, availability and most of all modesty. Then you need the right amount of luck  but you need to be prepared to create by your own.

Roberto, how far do you think we will be able to travel in the space?

Certainly outside of the solar system and we will be able to explore other planets. The projects that are developed here are technologically very futuristic.

Are you happy?

Absolutely yes. I think I found my happiness, here. I’ve been here for five months now and everyday I get up happy.

What would you like to say to the Italian politicians, ruling the country?

I understand the hard time in terms of economy,  but I would tell them that cutting funds to culture, research and universities is the last thing that a country in crisis should do. Because that is the best way to lose the achievers, who will go and look for opportunities elsewhere.

by Alessandro Parrello


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