Against All Odds: This Pakistan-born Lady Is A Leading Engineer at NASA

The story of a Pakistan-born lady, who survived war in the Gulf countries, lived as a refugee in a desert and then went on to making her way to NASA is definitely heart-warming. That is in a nutshell, the tale of Hibah Rahmani, a remarkable lady who has defied all odds and secured an important position at NASA, the US space agency.

She is an important rocket engineer at NASA and her tale serves as a role model to girls all over the world, that no matter how bleak things appear at times, they have it within themselves to defy all odds and break stereotypes.

Background

Hibah Rahmani was born in Pakistan. Her family moved to Kuwait when she was barely a month old. She spent a peaceful childhood in the Arabian Gulf, until war broke out between Iraq and Kuwait in the early 90s.

As she puts it:

“My fondest memory growing up is taking walks with my family at night, either in the desert or on the sidewalk by the Arabian (Persian) Gulf, looking up at the sky to admire the moon and stars, and thinking about astronauts such as Neil Armstrong who have stepped on the moon,” she said. “It was around this time I developed a passion for science, space and astronomy.”

However, those nice little memories came to an end when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and she had to flee with her family to a “No Man’s Land” near the Iraq-Jordan border. They reached the place at night and the camp was all out of tents. Her family had to spend the nights in an open sky in the desert.

While that time was characterized by misery and hardships for her and her family, it was also the start of something pure – her newfound love for stars. Hibah Rahmani says:

“Even though this was a tough time for us, one of the things I remember from that night was having a nice view of the sky with the golden moon and stars, while trying to sleep on the cold desert sand. It reminded me of my goals and dreams.”

After a brief stay in Jordan, she traveled with her mother and sister to Pakistan. Her father was in the US at the time of the invasion but the family got reunited back in Pakistan. This incident served as the catalyst for her newfound dream, and she was determined to make it to where she can take her study of stars further – NASA.

Educational Background

The US-led coalition brought an end to the first Gulf War and a ceasefire was signed in February 1991. Hibah Rahmani moved back to Kuwait with her family and decided to become an engineer.

After completing high school in Kuwait, she moved to the US in 1997 and completed her Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering at the University of Central Florida (UCF). After graduating in 2000, she started working for Boeing as a Systems Engineer for the International Space Station (ISS).

“I was involved with integrated testing of the ISS components and sometimes astronauts would stop by to either view or participate in the testing,” Rahmani said. “It is during this time that I developed a strong desire to become an astronaut and started taking steps toward that goal.”

This led her to complete a more advanced degree, this time a Masters in electrical and computer engineering from Georgia Tech between 2002 and 2005.

Career in NASA

In 2008, Hibah Rahmani accepted her current position at NASA’s Engineering and Technology Directorate at Kennedy.

“I support NASA’s Launch Services Program, working on expendable launch vehicles such as the Pegasus XL and Falcon 9,” she said. “I provide technical expertise, follow launch vehicle testing, perform data reviews and provide technical assessments of engineering issues.”

Pegasus is Orbital Science Corp.’s rocket used for launching payloads while Falcon 9 is a SpaceX launch vehicle used to boost the Dragon spacecraft to the space station for resupply missions.

Hibah says “The happiest and most exciting moment of my job is to watch a rocket take off from the launch pad and go into space.”

Her strong passion for her work is evident from her voluntary Public Affairs activities to inspire others. She says “I love to inspire others. I speak to students at local schools about my career and have volunteered as a science fair judge.”

She also provides real-time updates to the NASA LSP Twitter and Facebook accounts during launch countdowns when she is not providing engineering support to the mission staff. So it’s possible you might have seen NASA’s status updates which were actually posted by her.

Her Message

“I have the privilege of working with an amazing team, while doing what I love,” she says. Her key to success is that she sets some very high goals.

“The experiences of my life have taught me to always dream big and to never give up, because you can achieve whatever you want if you work hard.”

She asks the youth, especially girls, to “stay focused and dream big.” That is the philosophy she followed ever since she fell in love with the stars in a desolate Jordanian desert.

Image Credits: NASA

He is the Editor at ProPakistani.


  • So true, girls can perform better, if they really dream big and of course work hard to achieve what they dreamed about. Proud!

    • Touche to that!
      and for ProPak team, stop crediting people if they were just BORN in Pakistan, unless they have at least completed their schooling from Pakistani schools, I don’t see them being called Pure Pakistani, I bet NASA wouldn’t have even considered her application should she have told them I am born and RAISED in Pakistan.

      • exactly bhai shukar hai kisi ne tu himmat ki yeh comment karne ki! Thats what I feel after reading all these Pakistani national doing this, Pakistani born doing that. They have no relation with Pakistan other then they were just born in Pakistan and raised and studied out of the country. It would be interesting if Pakistan offer them to come back here and serve Pakistan I am believe not even 5 out of 100 would like to come here.

        • Cheers Bro! sole reason I left lucrative UK job and came to Pakistan as I want my kids to be properly raised up here (and I am not the only one), I have always felt pride to be a Pakistani born and raised, and want my kids to feel the same.

    • Salam, she is doing great or not it will be decided on the day of judgement according to the Laws of Allah Subhab wa Tallah. Gol roti banana aur apni family ki care karna you will be granted best place in Jannah. Working in NASA without veil and with non muslim strangers will take you where you don;t want to go. The opposite of Jannah. Allah tamam muslim auratoon ko Hidayat aur kamyabi naseeb furmaye.

        • Go and read the Quran with translation If you believe in it and then read your comment. You’ll understand what’s wrong.

          • Last I checked Quran didn’t forbid women from working, and also last I checked women were not forbidden from going to market and buying or forbidden from running businesses or anything of that sort. and it is practically impossible to do that without talking with non-mahrams.

            So if it was not forbidden in time of Prophet PBUH then your analysis is false.

      • Wow, in one sentence you say it will be decided on day of judgement on next sentence you decide that she will not go to heaven because of what you see in the pictures.

        Do you know what is in her heart? Nopes. But you already “decide” it will take her to hell. Wow, so if we have you, why do we need day of judgement?

  • Every ProPakistani story starts with, He/She was born in Pakistan and moved away, when infant and became something… That really says something in itself.

  • It’s not something that she should be proud of atleast. Success is only in obeying Allah Ta’ala and his messenger S.A.W.W. and working for true purpose of life i.e. Worship of Allah. Read The Book of Allah, what Allah says about Ladies Pardah. Can anyone be successful by not following the ayaat of Allah? For how many years she’ll gonna live more? 20, 30, 40 years. Then what? This temporary life has to end one day. Real life shall start after death. So better plan on time before its too late as Worldly life is just like a drop out of a Sea (i.e. Akhirah).

    • fuck off can you do it what you say is sheer jealousy as far as iknow Your prophet has given special instruction for education and getting good education is right of every body Shes is a proud Muslim girl not an ostrich like you

      • I am not at all jealous and neither i need to be because I’m quite happy and satisfied with my life. Brother, where I have written that Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. prohibited education. Anyways, by your name you don’t seem to be a Muslim and you wouldn’t have read the Quran, so can’t argue with you. Only a person who has even just once read the book of Allah can understand what I said. Thanks.

  • First of all well done. We need girls like you in Pakistan. You are an excellent role model for young people. I really like what you said about dreaming big and working hard. I completely agree with you. Keep doing good work and inspiring others.
    PS: I have seen some neagtive comments which is very sad. Everyone should try their best to achieve something good. If you think you cannot do it in Pakistan then try to go where you can do it. If that is not possible then do well according to your circumstances. Also Islam does not prohibit to be successful in this world as well as being a good muslim. Acknowledge and apprecaite who are doing well in this life.

    • For God Sake, read the book of Allah so that you may understand what Islam prohibits and what not.
      Dunya parasti ki glasses utar kar Quran parhain.

      • After reading your post, I believe that we all should “reread” the Quran, so that we can “understand” the TRUE meaning of the Quran.

  • Donald Trump is the great person. He doesn’t hide his intentions. He simply delivers in a straight forward way. A friend with dissimulated or with impersonated intentions is far more dangerous. Defending a country in an aggressive way is not the bad policy, this is what and how we should have done already against our enemies e.g. build a wall, restrict people from across the border. We should learn from Him.

  • No, she will not be deported. I am sure she is American Citizen. She will be treated with dignity and respect here in America than any other Muslim country in the world.


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