From Space Camp to Space Fence

Arriving at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, as a 9 year old, Greg Fonder was in his element. He already knew he liked math and science, and he loved building Rube Goldberg machines. For five days during Space Camp, he got an inside look at the world of simulation and training as well as NASA’s exploratory goals. He was officially hooked on science.

“I’ve always been intrigued with how people can use math and science to make inventions and predict how events could unfold,” said Fonder. “In school, I started launching rockets then fell in love with physics. I liked the ability to characterize the world and predict the outcomes of complex environments.”

Fonder’s interests led him to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005. When it came time to look for a job, he was drawn to companies that worked on large-scale, complex systems. He also wanted to continue his education. He found the perfect fit with Lockheed Martin’s Engineering Leadership Development Program.

“I liked that it combined rotational experiences on a variety of programs, graduate school support, and on-the-job-training to learn about other related science fields,” said Fonder. “For two rotations, I was paired with Lockheed Martin Fellows, which gave me great insight into how Lockheed Martin is pushing technology forward.”

It was during one of those rotations that Greg’s interest in space was rekindled. He supported Lockheed Martin Fellows who were conducting early Space Fence architecture studies in 2007. Their work helped shape Lockheed Martin’s Space Fence solution and position the company for the Pentagon’s acquisition strategy – a multi-year, multi-phase process with several down-selects. The U.S. government felt this approach would result in the best solution, and at the same time develop systems engineering skills and attract a new generation of young scientists

“To me engineering challenges have always been fun, and that’s my driver for continuing to try my hardest,” he said. “Every day, I think about how I can contribute to solving the next challenging problem and make my program successful.  Maybe not all of the work is equally as fun, but then that drives me to finish my current work well and ensure I am ready for the next opportunity.”