Nithin Abraham

Nithin Abraham - 2020 SPIE Women in Optics Planner

Coatings Engineer
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA

Nithin Abraham

Country of Birth: India
Country of Residence: USA
Educational Background: BS and MS in Chemical Engineering, Manhattan College


My high school guidance counselor was the first person who inspired me to pursue a career in engineering. She made me realize my potential in math and science, particularly chemistry, and encouraged me to apply to chemical engineering programs. Conversely, I remember two people who tried to persuade me against engineering because it would be too challenging and interfere with my future family responsibilities. These unsought words of discouragement just inspired me to work toward a career in engineering.

I provide expertise on spacecraft thermal control coatings and molecular adsorber coatings in support of NASA satellites, instruments, and telescopes for earth science, heliophysics, astrophysics, and planetary science missions. I consult and make recommendations on coatings-related topics and discussions, lead research and development efforts of coatings for spaceflight applications, perform thermal/optical property and performance testing of coatings, and coordinate the application of coatings on hardware.

One of the biggest challenges in my career is being an introvert. I sometimes find it difficult to share my ideas and speak up during meetings. Attending leadership development programs helped me explore ways to thrive at work given my unique temperament and become more self-aware. I have learned to focus on my strengths, share my accomplishments, ask for feedback, and confide in my mentors and sponsors at work.

One piece of advice that I wish someone had told me early on is the importance of having mentors who can help guide you, and sponsors who can help advocate for you. Today, I am very grateful to have mentors and sponsors at work who support my professional and personal development.

My advice to young girls and women who are interested in STEM is to apply to as many internships as possible. Internships allow you to gain valuable experience and explore the prospective career path to determine if it is something you like (or don’t like). During your internship, don’t be afraid to ask questions, learn as much as you can, network with women in the STEM field, and understand what the different career paths are at the company.

View more 2020 profiles