Rose-Hulman’s MLK Day event features trailblazing Mars Rover engineer

Moogega Cooper 

Moogega “Moo” Cooper will talk Monday about her inspirational journey from physics student to mechanical engineer to becoming a real life “Guardian of the Galaxy” as a NASA planetary protection lead engineer, as Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion’s Speaker Series event is happening virtually on Zoom live from 11-11:50 a.m. It is free and open to the public. Space is limited to the first 500 registrants. 

Interested attendees can register at

“Dr. Cooper’s remarkable life story showcases that people’s aspirations can be limitless,” said Nick Davis, director of Rose-Hulman’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion. “She’s a great role model for our students, especially women in science and technology, because she can readily identify with them and their career ambitions. She has achieved her dreams, and they can too.”

Cooper’s work with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is considered integral in the Perseverance rover’s ongoing mission, since its landing on Feb. 18, 2021, to discern whether Mars could be habitable for humans. She is also responsible for keeping the red planet safe from any of the Earth’s contaminants.

After graduating from high school at 16, Cooper studied physics as an undergraduate, received a master's degree and went on to earn a doctorate in mechanical engineering at 24 years old with a dissertation on spacecraft materials.

Cooper enjoys talking about her work to kids from underrepresented communities, and has appeared on the “Because Space” and “Bill Nye Saves the World” television shows. She likes to introduce people to the wonders of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM) world, and empowering organizations and others achieve their dreams and overcome obstacles that she articulately conveys through her life story.

Cooper is a recipient of several awards, including the NASA Early Career Public Achievement Medal, the Charles Elachi Award for Exceptional Early Career Achievement and JPL Voyager Awards for Technical Leadership.

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