Laurie Carrillo, Ph.D.
Johnson Research Center

Materials Engineer

Ms. Laurie Y. Carrillo currently conducts thermal analysis to support the development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, NASA’s next generation spacecraft. This involves creating computer models that simulate the heating of a spacecraft from internal spacecraft systems, and external space environment heating. Knowledge in the areas of orbital mechanics, heat transfer, materials, programming, and applied mathematics are involved in this job.

In August 2008, she was primary author on a paper entitled Crew Exploration Vehicle Composite Pressure Vessel Thermal Assessment. (Carrillo, L.Y., Alvarez Hernandez, A.R., Rickman, S.L., “Crew Exploration Vehicle Composite Pressure Vessel Thermal Assessment,” Thermal and Fluids Analysis Conference, TFAWS-08-1007, NASA, 2008.)

Laurie first came to work at NASA in 1995 through a student internship program sponsored by NASA Headquarters. In 1998, she was hired as a flight controller in the Mission Operation Flight Design and Dynamics Office. She spent five years in the Advanced Space Propulsion Lab conducting thermal analysis on proposed Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) electric propulsion rocket designs to verify performance. This NASA project led by Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz (first Hispanic Male Astronaut) has since grown in to its own corporate entity founded by Dr. Chang-Diaz as the Ad Astra Rocket Company.
Laurie served as the Development Project Lead for the Space & Life Sciences Astromaterials team and as the Lab Manager for the Advanced Curation Laboratory, a laboratory to study future extraterrestrial samples. In support the Office of Curation and Acquisition at JSC, she supported an effort to take the original lunar rock research data and make it available to the public throughout the world via an easily accessible electronic CD format.

Awards & Recognition:

Laurie is a recipient of several NASA awards: Individual Performance Award for her work as an Ascent Analyst, Special Professional Achievement Award-awarded to the Advanced Curation of Future Extraterrestrial Samples Project Team, and Sustained Superior Scientific Achievement Award-awarded to the Mars Return Sample Handling Team, Length of Service Award-5 years of federal service(2003), 10 years of federal service (2008), Special Professional Achievement Award-awarded to the Brooks Lunar Sample Move Team (2003).
In addition, Laurie led the Mexican American Engineers and Scientists Houston Professional Chapter to receive the highest award that a chapter could receive-Professional Chapter of the Year for 2001. Additional awards include the NASA Flag Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research, the National Championship of the Engineering Academic Olympiad team award, and an individual Appreciation Award for her contributions to the 2001 NASA JSC American Heritage Week.

Laurie Co-Chaired the 2001 International MAES Symposium and served as a National MAES Board member in 2001. She is a member of the American Society of Materials International, The Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and The Planetary Society. Laurie is an active participant in the NASA Outreach program for which she received the Distinguished Role Model and Speaker Award from The Hispanic Friends of North Texas. As an additional outreach effort to inspire young students to consider the possibilities of engineering by providing role models who came from a variety of diverse backgrounds, Laurie participated in the book Ay Mija, Why Do You Want to Be an Engineer? by Edna Campos Gravenhorst. http://www.ahetems.org/precollege/aymijaobookseries.html

She served on several committees and was a group moderator for the Space Generation Summit held at the World Space Congress. She represented the United States amongst a group of 200 other young professional/graduate student delegates from around the world. In 2002 she was nominated and accepted a position on the Executive Committee of the Houston Professional Chapter of ASM International (The International Materials Engineers and Scientists Society).

Laurie has been selected by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) to receive the Past Presidents Award based on outstanding academic achievement as well as strong engineering potential. Ms. Carrillo was recognized at the SWE National Convention in Anaheim, California in November 2005.

Laurie was chosen as a Hispanic Engineering National Achievement Award Conference (HENAAC)/Daimler Chrysler Scholar based on grade point average, leadership, and campus/community service in 2005 and 2008. Carrillo was recognized at the 2005 HENAAC conference in Anaheim Calif. and the 2008 HENAAC conference in Houston Texas. This honor comes with a HENAAC conference package, including airfare, registration, and hotel accommodations along with a monetary award to be used for educational purposes.

In 2009, Laura was selected as one of the top 25 Women of Vision by Hispanic Business Magazine.

Education / Background

Laurie completed her first two years of high school at Robert E. Lee H.S. in San Antonio, Texas. In 1994, Laurie received her high school diploma from the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a unique residential program for high school-aged Texas students who are gifted in math and science. Laurie attended Rice University, where she attained her B.A. in Mathematics and Computational & Applied Math and a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering in 1998. Laurie received her Masters in Aerospace Engineering with an emphasis in Space Operations at the University of Colorado in 2002. In the Fall of 2001, Laurie became certified as an “Engineer in Training” by passing the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam given by the Texas Board of Professional Engineers. She obtained her Professional Engineering (P.E.) Certification from the Texas Board of Professional Engineers in 2004. In 2005, she completed coursework requirements for her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Rice University. Her current doctoral research is in the area of numerical radiative heat transfer at the nanoscale. This has direct applications for developments in space technology, nanorobotics, advanced energy systems, and high speed computing systems. Laurie has a particular interest towards applications involving the development of nanoscale cancer treatments in support of the cancer community. She has received educational support from NASA Headquarters, Rice University, American Physical Society, American Geophysical Society, NASA-JSC, HENAAC, Daimler Chrysler, Society of Women Engineers, and Zonta International. She was selected as a Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellow for 2006-2007.

Laurie was born in San Antonio, Texas. Her father was a migrant farm worker. Her mother was the daughter of a trash collector. From humble beginnings, Laurie credits God with all she has achieved.


Featured Link(s)

  • 2009 – Spotlight – JSC monthly magazine – Employee of the Month (Oct ’09 Issue, page 10 of 12)
  • JSC Biography website. View on-line interview(s) at: espacial.com (7/03) or reports at JSC Features
  • 2008 – Laurie’s article entitled “Precious Treasures on Earth” which she wrote for “Lunar News” which is published by the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office, NASA JSC. This article was also featured on the electronic JSC Today.



NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) is located in Houston, Texas; it was established in 1961 as the Manned Spacecraft Center. The Center was renamed in 1973 in honor of the late President Lyndon B. Johnson.

NASA JSC serves as the lead NASA center for the International Space Station — a U.S.-led collaborative effort of 16 nations, and the largest, most powerful, complex human facility to ever operate in space.

NASA JSC is also home to the NASA astronaut corps, and is responsible for training space explorers from the United States and our space station partner nations. As such, it is the principal training site for both space shuttle crews and International Space Station Expedition crews.

For more information, visit NASA Johnson Space Center home page.