Update from Evie Tompkins, Safety Engineer, Kennedy Space Center

In 2006, Evie Tompkins said that her rocket from the DoD STARBASE summer camp she had attended at Forbes Air National Guard Base years before in Topeka, Kansas had been kept as a memento of her first rocket launch. Over the past ten years, her dreams, and rockets, got much bigger.

In 2008, Tompkins started working at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It had been her long-time dream to work for NASA in one capacity or another, so she was thrilled to have the opportunity to work as a Safety Engineer on the Space Shuttle program as a NASA contractor. It was a bittersweet time as the Shuttle program wound down and ended in 2011, but she enjoyed being part of that history. “I felt so blessed and privileged to be a part of something I’ve always loved and which made such immense impacts and changes in our world,” said Tompkins.

Today, she finds herself in another part of history. Tompkins is working on the design and testing of equipment to be used during launch of the Space Launch System, which will be NASA’s next vehicle. The Space Launch System will take astronauts on missions to multiple deep-space destinations. Her job as a Safety Engineer at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Equipment Test Facility involves her with the many umbilical’s and launch accessories for the new rocket as they are being developed and tested.

Though her aviation-related beginnings have evolved into a career in aeronautics, Tompkins continues to maintain her pilot and flight instructor certifications and still enjoys flying when she can. Her father, with whom she shared a passion for flight, attended the DoD STARBASE camp with her as a volunteer leader/teacher many years ago, and was also impacted by the experience. Tompkins said, “Dad has been a High School Special Education teacher for more than 25 years and is retiring this year. He told me that even his experience at DoD STARBASE had an impact on how he has taught science to his students all these years. After attending, he began having them build and launch their own rockets and does that activity every year. It is always one of their biggest highlights of the school year.”

Reflecting on DoD STARBASE today, Tompkins said, “Without a doubt, my experience at DoD STARBASE was a catalyst into my fascination with science and the world of physics. That fascination carried over into my love of aviation and space exploration, which eventually brought me to work on those very things which inspired me throughout my childhood and adolescence. For that influence that DoD STARBASE had on my interests, course of study, and career, I am very grateful. It’s a path I have truly enjoyed and am proud of.”


Evie Tompkins