Alumna Spotlight: Anima Patil-Sabale

anima patil-sabaleCurrent Position

Scientist-Astronaut Candidate (Commercial Space Projects)

Software and Aerospace Engineer


B.S. Physics, North Maharashtra University, India
M.S. Computer Applications, North Maharashtra University, India
M.S. Aerospace Engineering, SJSU


I started off as a Software Engineer in India, then came to the US as a software consultant.  After working in industry for 14 years, I joined NASA as a Senior Principal Software Engineer on the Kepler mission.  I worked on Kepler for 3.5 years and then joined the Intelligent Systems Division as a Software Engineer. That project recently ended and I am now looking for a new project at NASA.

What do you do at work?

I have a strong software engineering background so I have been mostly doing software engineering work. When I was on Kepler, I was working in the Science Operations Center where we processed the data from the telescope and provided products in the forms of light curves for anaysis to our customers that mostly included astronomers, astrophysicists and scientists.

What are you most passionate about in your work? Why? 

I love working for NASA because I get to be in the environment where I can pursue my childhood dream of becoming an Astronaut.

How has your SJSU AE experience helped shape your success?

I did my MS AE at SJSU so I could pursue a career at NASA and also start working towards my goal of becoming an astronaut. The SJSU AE experience helped me get an in-depth knowledge of aeronautics and space systems. It opened a new world for me. Even though I did not get to work on Aerospace projects at NASA, I have been doing several other things apart from my day job, like training to be a pilot, being a Scientist-Astronaut Candidate, taking up the Aerospace Engineering Systems Manager position at a startup so I can work on some aerospace projects from scratch. The degree has enabled me to pursue my interest in astronautics further.

How are you making a positive impact in the world?

I am a huge STEM advocate, a NASA Mentor, a NASA Speaker. I am pursuing my motto to “Inspire, Guide and Motivate” the younger generation, to provide them the guidance I missed out on growing up, through my website and Facebook page.

I love sharing my knowledge and experiences with youth. People have found inspiration in my journey so far and it has been shared in the news media. I am a “40 Women to Watch Over 40” honoree this year. I am also honored to be the alumni profiled in the Fall-Winter 2016 edition of the SJSU’s Washington Square magazine.

What advice do you have for aspiring AEs?

Be Persistent, Never Give Up and Always Have a Backup Plan if you want to pursue a tough dream like becoming an astronaut.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. I am thankful to Dr. Mourtos and Dr. Papadopoulos. Dr. Mourtos especially has been a great mentor and support to me. I appreciate all his help and support from my days at SJSU till date! We have a great program at SJSU and I wish we had a PhD program as well.

I hope to someday make it into the NASA Astronaut Corps and make our department proud :-)

And whether I make it or not, I will have the satisfaction I tried and most important, I enjoyed the journey! Yes, I am having a lot of fun being a pilot, a scuba diver and a Scientist-Astronaut candidate. I recently participated in a microgravity spacesuit evaluation and flew 15 parabolas aboard a Falcon 20, performing tests on a commercial spacesuit. These kind of experiences make my journey exciting and worthwhile!