Joe Hackel has achieved the kind of work-life balance to which many of us aspire. He’s a well-respected and accomplished engineer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS), and he gets to accomplish his daily tasks from the comfort of his home in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. Joe is the Lead Systems Engineer on the COSMIC-2 mission, a part of NESDIS’ Office of Projects, Planning, and Analysis (OPPA). The goal of the COSMIC-2 international partnership between NOAA, the U.S. Air Force, and the Taiwanese National Space Organization (NSPO) is to develop a constellation of 12 small satellites to collect atmospheric data and Global Navigation Satellite System-Radio Occultation (GPSS-RO) measurements of the Earth’s atmosphere. The data collected from these satellites will aid NOAA in global weather prediction, including severe weather forecasts, as well as further research into Earth’s climate and gravity systems.
Joe was awarded OPPA’s Team Member of the Month for November, in large part because of contributions to the success of the UCAR Data Processing Center Readiness Review #3, which was a major accomplishment for the COSMIC-2 program.
“Joe routinely combines his technical knowledge and communication skills to ensure the technical challenges within the program are addressed in a timely fashion,” said Suzanne Hilding, OPPA Director. “Since coming onto the COSMIC-2 program, Joe has taken ownership of ALL program requirements and consistently performs at a high level.”
Let’s get to know Joe a little better:
1. What three traits describe you?
Driven, conciliator, passionate
2. What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
Working construction in West Virginia. While building a house is not weird, the gentilhomme who were also part of the crew were unique. From the one-handed guy who could drive nails faster than anyone (thumb press nail into wall, single hit of hammer, repeat), to the various life stories (Vietnam stories of the jungle are not bedtime reading), they made the job fascinating.
3. What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
Astronaut, per chance.
4. If you could have a dinner party and invite any three people, dead or alive, who makes the guest list?
Assuming I have a universal translator and no other guests, and I want the dinner party to be sparkling and fun, Teddy Roosevelt, Julius Caesar, and Elon Musk.
5. What was your favorite subject in school and why?
Latin, because it had the best stories (hello, vomitorium!).
6. Which of your five senses is the strongest? How about weakest?
The strongest is taste, because I love food. My weakest is ESP, because I’m an engineer.
7. What kind of music do you listen to?
Indie-rock, like Afghan Whigs, Blur, Cure, Dispatch, Elliot Smith, Foals, etc.
8. You can only eat the same three foods for the rest of your life. What are they?
I pick three foods I can mix: chocolate, bacon, whiskey.
9. If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?
When Red Hot Chili Peppers played with Nirvana and Pearl Jam opened. Or when Led Zeppelin opened for the Who. Did I mention I like music?
10. What trend would you like to see go away forever?
Instagram food pictures. Really? Do those filters make you pass as professional photographer?
11. If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
Super speed, because I am always late to any meeting.
12. Tell us about your most unique travel experience.
It’s hard to pick one! But I’ll go with climbing Ayers Rock in Australia, perhaps intoxicated. The sky was blue and the sand was red, and 10 of us were making a human pyramid to capture the Ayers rock shape.
13. What’s your #1 item on your bucket list?
14. What’s on or in your nightstand?
15. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People texting during meals. Is your mom dying? Girlfriend stranded on the highway? Okay. Anything else? No.
16. If you could be on any TV game show, what would it be and why?
“Firefly.” But I get to be a captain.
17. Name a food item you wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.
18. If you could choose one amenity to add to the workplace, what would it be?