Spacecraft Engineer Is on Fire for Community Service

Thu, 05/25/2023 - 15:00
Ashley Hume

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) engineer Kyle Norman spends his time away from the office putting out fires — literally. Last month, Norman received the Central Maryland Chamber 2023 Public Safety Spirit of Community Award for his work as a volunteer firefighter.

“As a kid, I always wanted to be a firefighter, but I ended up going down a different route and became an engineer,” said Norman. “When I moved to Odenton, I started driving past the firehouse and saw a volunteer sign plastered on the side of it. One day, I just went in and inquired about it. They said no prior experience was required, so I gave it a shot.”

Since joining the Odenton Volunteer Fire Company in 2018, Norman has risen to the rank of lieutenant and has completed more than 650 hours of emergency response training. In 2022, he responded to more than 360 emergency calls, ranging from fires to medical emergencies to vehicle rescues.

“It’s really nice to be able to volunteer in your community and give back in that way,” Norman said.

Norman accomplished these feats while also working full time at APL and completing a master’s degree in space systems engineering. In his daily work at the Laboratory, Norman helps design, manufacture and test the complex electrical systems — called harnesses — that power spacecraft.

“The harness team’s job is to get all the wires in the spacecraft connected properly, and to connect all of the electronic boxes,” Norman explained. “A lot goes into that work — we have to determine what wires to use, how to shield them, what connectors we need and how to route the wires around all the various components.”