Ferdowsi at SpaceUp Houston in November 2012
November 7, 1979 |
|Education||Massachusetts Institute of Technology
American School in Japan
University of Washington
|Employer(s)||Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)|
Mars Science Laboratory
Bobak Ferdowsi (Persian: بابک فردوسی) (born November 7, 1979) is an American systems engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He served on the Cassini–Huygens and Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity missions.
Ferdowsi gained brief media fame in August 2012, when he wore an unusual mohawk hairstyle during the Curiosity landing. It unexpectedly became an iconic image of the event with coverage in the news and social media, U.S. President Obama even commented on the popularity of "Mohawk Guy".
Life and career
Ferdowsi was born November 7, 1979, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is of Persian descent; his father immigrated to the United States from Iran. His parents met in college. Soon after birth he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he stayed until age 11, then moved to Tokyo in 1991, where he attended the American School in Japan, graduating in 1997.
The same year, he enrolled at the University of Washington where he majored in aerospace engineering, a childhood dream. While there he did research under Nobel Laureate Hans Georg Dehmelt in the Department of Physics. In 2001, he enrolled at MIT and joined the Lean Aerospace Initiative where he stayed until 2003.
Ferdowsi joined JPL in late 2003, and worked on the Mars Science Laboratory mission through its successful landing nearly nine years later on August 6, 2012. He was also Science Planner on the Cassini–Huygens mission.
Media appearances and NASA advocacy
Ferdowsi became a media "sensation", or "meme", when during the August 6, 2012, landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, he wore an unusual mohawk hairstyle that was seen on NASA TV's live broadcast of the event. He was seated in a prominent camera position and his mohawk unexpectedly became an iconic image of the landing. Ferdowsi explained that he wore a new haircut for every mission and the mohawk was chosen by his team by popular vote.
When President Barack Obama called to congratulate the team, he noted the popularity of the "Mohawk Guy," saying "it does seem NASA has come a long way from the white shirts, dark-rimmed glasses, and pocket protectors. You guys are a little cooler than you used to be." Ferdowsi said in another interview that he did it to help lighten the seriousness of the workplace and "If my mohawk gets a few more people excited about science and this mission, that's awesome."
Ferdowsi took part in the Second inauguration of Barack Obama (January 2013) marching in the parade alongside replicas of Curiosity and the Orion spacecraft, along with other NASA scientists, as part of the agency's official Presidential Inaugural Weekend. Ferdowsi also took part in Obama's State of the Union address on February 12, 2013, where he was seated in First Lady Michelle Obama's box "to highlight President Barack Obama's call for more visas for skilled immigrants in the fields of math, science and engineering."
- Adam Steltzner, lead engineer of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover Entry, Descent and Landing phase
- Bobak Ferdowsi (2003). "Product Development Strategies in Evolutionary Acquisition". MIT. p. 5. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
- Landau, Elizabeth (August 15, 2012). "Mars rover mission's 'Mohawk Guy' inspires Obama". CNN. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
- "NASA Mohawk Man, Bobak Ferdowsi, Talks Mars". Huffington Post. August 10, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Louise Boyle and Eddie Wrenn (6 August 2012). "Revealed: The story of the MIT-educated engineering whizz kid who wowed the Internet with his mohawk as he landed a robot on Mars (yes, he has a girlfriend)". Daily Mail. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- "Bobak Ferdowsi". LinkedIn. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Shira Lazar (August 6, 2012). "Meet NASA's Mohawk Guy, Bobak Ferdowsi". What's Trending. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- "Bobak Ferdowsi: Science Planner Engineer". NASA. Retrieved August 14, 2012.. See also YouTube version
- Kate Miltner (8 August 2012). "What made 'Nasa Mohawk Guy' such a successful meme?". The Guardian. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- "Meet Bobak Ferdowsi, NASA’s Mohawked Engineer". Wall Street Journal. August 7, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Torie Bosch (August 6, 2012). "Forget the Nerdy Image: Mars Rover Curiosity Team Includes "Mohawk Guy" and Former Rock ‘n’ Roller". Slate. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
- Megan Garber (August 6, 2012). "The Curiosity Landing Already Has a Meme: NASA's 'Mohawk Guy'". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!". NPR. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
- Amina Khan (August 9, 2012). "Curiosity: Meet 'Mohawk Guy,' Mars mission's Internet sensation". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- "President Obama Calls to Congratulate Curiosity Team". NASA. August 13, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
- Miriam Kramer (January 18, 2013). "NASA's 'Mohawk Guy' to March in Obama's Inaugural Parade". Space.com. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
- Kitty Felde (February 11, 2013). "JPL's 'Mohawk Guy' to sit with First Lady at State of Union". Southern California Public Radio. Retrieved February 11, 2013.