Front Page
Boeing Frontiers
April 2004
Volume 02, Issue 11
Boeing Frontiers
Main Feature

Mohammed Santina
Achievements in spacecraft

Mohammed SantinaDespite his corporate awards and industry accolades, Mohammed "Michael" Santina knew he'd made it when he could explain to his teenage sons in layman's terms just how his Boeing work on the Global Positioning System affects their everyday lives.

"I really take pride in telling my kids what I've done about it," said Santina, a 19-year Boeing employee who's internationally known for his control systems design expertise.

Santina knows the importance of his work on this satellite-driven system, a system whose technology is available to many people through cars, personal digital assistants and watches. And so does Boeing, which named him a Senior Technical Fellow. Not bad for a man who in 1969 watched Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin plant the U.S. flag on the moon and decided at that moment "to become a space engineer and to work for the company that built the Apollo spacecraft."

As the technical expert in Controls and the Line-of-Sight Group at the Space & Intelligence Systems unit of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Santina has contributed to more than a dozen major spacecraft programs ranging from GPS and Milstar to Teledesic and Future Imagery Architecture. He's also renowned for his expertise in complex space vehicle attitude determination, control and navigation.

Santina's work often involves proprietary programs, but one thing that's not undercover is his dedication to teaching and mentoring up-and-coming engineers.

Mohammed Santina

A dedication to mentoring
Career field: Control Systems
Organization: Space & Intelligence Systems, Seal Beach, Calif.
Company service: 19 years
Education: Doctorate in electrical engineering, control systems, University of California, Irvine, 1987; master's degree in electrical engineering, control systems, California State University, Long Beach, 1980; bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, California State University, Long Beach, 1978
Publications: 24
Bob Younkin, the Technical Fellowship senior focal for Space & Intelligence Systems who mentored Santina during the Senior Tech Fellow application process, said the engineer's ability to influence and shape Boeing undergraduate co-op students is one of his greatest strengths.

"He takes the time to spend with the young individual—not only sharing data, but he also gets involved with the individual at lunch and in the evenings," Younkin said. "They also come back and work for Boeing because of him."

Santina mentors engineers for one to two years, helping them build their satellite attitude control skills and mold their careers. He believes this is critical, as "senior engineers have acquired a wealth of knowledge that is very valuable to the company and should be retained. In many cases, we can teach in one month what we learned in one year."

It's not always easy, said Younkin, to find a brilliant scientist who has an equally keen understanding of people and what makes them tick. But he says Santina's one of them.

"He just seems to work well with everybody—bosses, peers, subordinates," Younkin said. "He's very humble, too. He's not bigheaded in any way, shape or form, so he's a joy from that standpoint."

—Maureen Jenkins


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