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Littleton aerospace engineer works to break into final frontier while shattering stereotypes

Posted at 6:09 PM, Mar 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-15 20:38:25-04

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LITTLETON, Colo. -- From aerospace engineers to astronauts, some of the best and brightest people hail from our Colorado. They help build rockets and send people to space, always pushing to the final frontier.

Denver7 met aerospace engineer Vanessa Aponte, who is shattering stereotypes in the field as a Latina, as she works to inspire others that have dreams to pursue careers in the STEM field.

"Many a times I’m the only female, much less Latina in the room, but that has changed quite a bit," said Aponte.

Growing up in Puerto Rico, English was not her first language and her world has always been light years away.

"I dreamed about space. When I was a little girl I would run out to the balcony of my house and I would look up to the stars and I felt like I belonged up there," said Aponte.

Now it’s a reality. At Lockheed Martin, she helps design projects competing for NASA contracts, like the design for the Lunar Gateway, a place for astronauts to stay for months at a time while they explore the moon.

Details like storage efficiencies on the walls and under the floorboards, a treadmill on the ceiling and ways to operate the module remotely from Earth are all details she helps conceptualize.

"If you think about it three dimensionally then you'll realize that if you look up there is space to do everything that's a treadmill right there," said Aponte.

She's been a finalist a few times for NASA’s missions to space and hopes it will happen one day. In the meantime, she shares her inspiration with others, to get more women and minorities involved in STEM-related careers.

"They can sit at the table with you too and so it’s taken some time, but I’ve seen the change and I have faith in the awesome future," Aponte said.