The MITRE Corp. is a nonprofit organization that manages six federally funded research and development centers — for the IRS, the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Defense, Veterans’ Affairs, Homeland Security and the federal court systems.

Thirty four-year-old Dr. Michael Prausa is a local engineer who’s performing some of the nation’s cutting-edge research for MITRE, researches prototype space software for the Department of Defense.

What do you do at MITRE?

Since joining MITRE, I have worked on several prototype efforts supporting Department of Defense organizations. The space domain is an area that I have spent a lot of my time involved in while at MITRE and we’ve put together some very interesting concepts. A significant benefit of this work has been the opportunity to learn from many experts both within MITRE and throughout the space community. This has been personally very rewarding for me.

How has that job changed over time?

This is the type of job where you’re continuously exposed to new things. I’ve often thought that I’ve gained a pretty good handle on things only to find out that there’s a completely new aspect to explore. Or, you meet someone who has some very good and sometimes creative ideas on how to do things more efficiently. It’s something I really enjoy and one of the reasons I look forward to coming to work.

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What are some of the challenges in your field?

A large piece of the work that we do in the prototype domain is brand new, cutting edge type of stuff that typically does not have a well-defined way ahead. As a result, we often encounter complex technical challenges that need to be overcome. I’m fortunate to work with a team that has an excellent track record of developing innovative and effective solutions. In addition, MITRE’s corporate culture encourages reach back across the company, which allows direct access to top shelf experts in several different disciplines.

Why did you choose this field?

I’ve always had a fascination with technology in general and particularly with computers. I initially started out with hardware and pursued that while obtaining my undergrad in Electrical Engineering, but was then drawn more towards software. Thanks to some excellent mentors within MITRE, I began to focus more on combining the two and ended up with a research area in high performance computing. This has been very synergistic with MITRE’s strong interest in leveraging high performance computing to satisfy customer needs.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals who want to enter your line of work?

Many of the customers that I support look to MITRE for recommendations on how to solve their technical challenges. In order to do that and stay competitive in general, I try to stay as current as possible on the latest technologies that impact my field. This can be a time consuming process, but can also identify a technology or technologies that may lead to a more optimal customer solution.