Alumna Florence Tan of NASA to Deliver Commencement Speech May 20

The Clark School of Engineering Spring Commencement Ceremony will be held on Monday, May 20, at 12:00 noon in the Comcast Center.  Ms. Florence Tan ('86, EE, B.S.), Electrical Lead Engineer with NASA, will serve as the guest speaker, and Mr. Juan Quintero-Moreno, a candidate for a bachelor of science degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is our student speaker. The ceremony will be streamed live at:

Florence Tan wanted to work in the space business ever since she saw Star Trek re-runs on Malaysian TV in the mid-70s. She enrolled in the University of Maryland’s Engineering program and soon parlayed her early networking skills into an internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

After graduating from UMD with a BSEE, she wrote software and designed and built electronics for five mass spectrometers that were sent forth into various quadrants of the solar system. Of those that did not blow up or go off course, one is resting on the surface of Titan, another is operating and orbiting around Saturn on the Cassini Orbiter, and another is on the Rover Curiosity, operating on the surface of Mars.

She is currently the Electrical Lead Engineer for the Sample Analysis on Mars (SAM) instrument on Curiosity, the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) on MAVEN, the next Mars bound mission launching in November 2013, as well as the Neutral Mass Spectrometer (NMS) on LADEE, a moon orbiter mission launching in September 2013. Florence likes volunteering in local schools to encourage children to consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Since graduating, while working full-time, she has gone back to school three times to earn an MSEE and MBA with high honors at Johns Hopkins University, and has also become a certified yoga teacher. Throughout her entire career, she has had the good fortune of having continued strong and unwavering support from her husband, children, parents and siblings.

Juan Quintero-Moreno is a first generation college student and immigrant who was able to attend college thanks to the hard work and dedication he and his parents invested in his education. He received the Maryland Distinguished Scholar Award and has actively mentored his peers as an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow. He considers himself very lucky to be a Clark School student. He is currently a Petty Officer First Class in the U.S. Navy. He is enrolled in the prestigious Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program (NUPOC) and is currently training to be a nuclear submarine officer.

For more information about Commencement, visit:


Published May 17, 2013