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Josh Steele ('02)

Alumnus Josh Steele

Josh Steele
Senior Scientific Applications Software Engineer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL)
Class of  ’02

I was born and raised in the Hampton Roads area (go 757!) and currently live in Columbia, MD with my wife, two sons, and cat. While at Virginia Tech, I was a member of the Virginia Tech Meistersingers, the Society of Physics Students, and very quickly became a huge fan of college football. After leaving Blacksburg with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1997, I went to the University North Carolina Chapel Hill to get a master’s degree in physics. I then came back to Virginia Tech in 2000 to earn a master's in computer science. Since graduating I’ve been at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), working in the Space Exploration Sector, taking advantage of both my degree backgrounds.

How did the department equip you for the ‘real world’...

Data visualization and research. Learning how to do research for a real-world sponsor gave me a great introduction to the work I would one day do at APL. Also, learning about data visualization techniques came in very handy when helping scientists fully comprehend what their data was showing them. 

Being a Virginia Tech alumnus means…

Hokie football. Walking across a very windy and cold Drillfield in the winter. The basement of Robeson Hall. McBryde 100. The colors of fall matching what everyone was wearing. Hokie stone. Reaching out to help those that need it (Ut Prosim, That I May Serve).

My fondest memory from my time in the department is...

When Dr. Richard Nance decided to take a chance and offer me a research assistantship. I truly believe that work helped me get where I am today. 

Physics and computer science work well together because…

For the most part, physics is FULL of formulas, data, hypotheses, and wild experiments. Computer science lets us test, visualize, and even simulate, physics results and experiments. They go hand in hand!  

 My favorite project with NASA has been...

Hands down, my work on MESSENGER, which was an orbiter APL built and sent to Mercury. I helped work on the science planning software for the project, using my physics and computer science background to help scientists make sure their science goals were achieved. And the mission was a great success!