Former NASA employees struggle to find new opportunities


by Brad Woodard / KHOU 11 News

Posted on June 30, 2011 at 5:23 PM

HOUSTON – As the shuttle program draws to a close, some of the best and brightest minds in Houston are looking for work.

At the Aerospace Recruiting Expo in League City on Wednesday, you could see it on their faces.  It’s the kind of stress that accompanies a life unraveled. 

“It’s the end of the world for some people,” said Rynda Johnson, an aerospace technician who recently got a pink slip.

At the age of 55, mechanical engineer Glenn Jenkinson has been out of work since November of 2009.

“It’s kind of a surprise,” said Jenkinson.  “It’s frustrating, because most companies are not interested in hiring someone my age, to be honest.”

He says it is his faith that keeps him going.

“I know that God has all the jobs and I’ve just got to stand in front of the person he wants me to stand in front of,” he said.

To call their predicament a misfortune would be an understatement.  They are among the brightest minds in the country, some of them responsible for keeping the most complicated machine ever built flying, but now unable to keep their jobs.

“It’s really intimidating,” said Richard Coles, Jr.

A video engineer, he was hired by Hamilton Sundstrand two months before the very first space shuttle mission.

“I’ve been there as long as the shuttle has been flying,” said Coles.  “We made history, as the company says.”