Matthew Pickett ’16, Helping Build Next Generation Space Suit for NASA

By Luisa Buttler, Elizabeth Mock | Published: July 02, 2020

Matthew Pickett ’16, Helping Build Next Generation Space Suit for NASA

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Matthew Pickett ’16 is reaching for the stars. Pickett, a mechanical engineer contracted to work with NASA, is on a team that is building space suits for use on the International Space Station. Pickett says his degree, a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, was the tool he needed to initially propel his career.

“The engineering shop I had access to was really what made the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi engineering program special,” Pickett, a Corpus Christi native, said. “Not only did I learn the theory and fundamentals of engineering, but I was also able to apply what I learned hands-on in the lab. Having the ability to design, engineer, and then build a part in the shop was an invaluable experience which helped prepare me for my career path.”

Less than a month after graduation, Pickett began working at a small, family owned engineering firm located south of Houston before eventually transitioning to his current position at Jacobs Technology, Inc. as a Space Suit Systems Engineer. It is in this capacity that he works at NASA under his firm’s JSC Engineering, Technology, and Science contract.

“I started on this project over a year ago, and even today I am still mind-blown that I am part of something so remarkable,” Pickett said. “I remember visiting the Johnson Space Center as a child and was totally amazed by what NASA had achieved. I never would have imagined that I would be working at NASA one day.”

Currently, Pickett is part of the team engineering the xEMU, a next generation space suit that will be used on the International Space Station. The suit will also be used to support the Artemis III mission, which will land the first woman and next man on the moon in 2024. Pickett’s role on the team is maintaining project-level technical plans, as well as working closely with other specialized engineer teams.

“It’s incredible to work with some of the brightest minds on the planet,” Pickett said. “It has been a pleasure to be part of this team, and I have gained an abundance of experience during my time here.”

After having such early success in his career, Pickett extends advice to his fellow Islanders.

“Set a goal and push harder and harder each day to meet that goal,” Pickett said. “Understand that it’s not always going to be easy but stay focused. In order to succeed, you’re going to fail sometimes. It’s those who learn from their failures who ultimately succeed.”