Monroe Native Explores and Teaches at NASA

When a little boy is growing up, there are two basic schools of thought concerning their future careers. Many aspire to be a heroic firefighter. This dream generally comes the same day that a kindergarten class learns to stop, drop, and roll with real life firefighters. Others want to combine their sense of adventure and courage to roam the planets as an astronaut and live on the moon. However, if you ask Ryan A. Bell, who grew up in Monroe, Ga and attended Monroe Area High School, he aspired to tackle a task possibly even more challenging; to allow average people to touch the reaches of the galaxy from their own homes.

Of course, this is meant in a figurative sense. Bell specializes in digital technologies and mass media. The word “aspired” is also used lightly, as Bell didn’t even know he wanted to work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (perhaps more of you know this famous organization as NASA) until a year before he began his work specializing in media. He was first noticed by White House executives under President Barak Obama when he gave a presentation on virtual reality and other new technologies at a NATO conference. The executives were obviously astounded by his knowledge because they collaborated with Bell to broadcast the first presidential speech in 360 video (a video in which the viewer can move his/her device all around and watch a video from multiple angles and views).

By this point, Bell was working in Hollywood (quite a ways away from Monroe) and judging The Emmy Awards. Yeah, you read that right…The Emmys. This fame, along with his extensive know-how on modern technologies, got him a job offer from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Bell would have been crazy to say no, so of course he didn’t.

Bell (second to last) and his work colleagues; contributed photo

Bell’s work is extremely diverse; “This weekend I’ll be demonstrating some virtual reality here, during the week I’m chatting with a few professional sporting teams that I can’t mention, and I’m working with The Television Academy on an Emmy event.” In addition, he collaborates closely with the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, to explore new planets and develop modern robot technology. Bell has been working at NASA since 2017.

If you ask Bell what he loves most about his job, he would tell you it’s the aspect of being able to learn new things everyday and then turn around these new ideas to share with the world. According to Bell, “I work at a company that is built to explore and educate. That’s one hell of a mission, ya know?”

Bell in full NASA fashion; contributed photo

You can learn more about Ryan A. Bell and NASA technologies by following him on Twitter @ryan_a_bell

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