Star Trek Made Me Do It

Star Trek Made Me Do It


As Goddard celebrated the successful launch of the Gamma-ray Large Area Telescope (GLAST), which will explore the most extreme environments of the universe, I recently noticed an article titled, “Setting His Sights Beyond the Stars” by Roger Witherspoon published in US Black Engineer and IT Conference Edition – 2008. The article begins as follows:


Star Trek made him do it.  In a sense, the rise of Reginald Van Lee, the man that public and private organizations around the globe turn to for IT solutions, owes the genesis of his career to Captain Kirk and the interstellar travels of the Starship Enterprise.


Wow, another IT and Star Trek connection.  If you’re a Star Trek fan, nothing is better than being the CIO of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.  I knew that.  Really, here’s why. 


Kobayashi Maru


In Star Trek, this is the training simulation, impossible to successfully complete, that young Starfleet cadets go through in order to test how they face defeat.  The only cadet to beat the game was the young cadet James T. Kirk.  He does so by reprogramming the game so that he could win. 


Goddard IT challenges are tremendous.  Addressing them requires game-changing strategies that will support and enable mission; implement risk-based IT security measures; improve transparency into IT costs; and improve efficiency and effectiveness.  Goddard’s current IT Transformation is a game-changing strategy that will launch IT Management into the future.


The Borg


The Borg are a collection of cyborgs who are organized as an inter-connected collective with a hive mind.  They function with a single-minded purpose, transforming individuals and technology through assimilation and adding the biological and technological distinctiveness their own.


Goddard has a very disparate and heterogeneous infrastructure.  It is a challenge to manage and secure.  Through unification and consolidation, we will have a stronger infrastructure that will be easier to secure and easier to manage.  However, as a scientific research organization, diversity often has a competitive advantage.  Too much standardization could inhibit game-changing innovation – too little standardization could have the same effect.  Followers of the Borg would know that their unification was both a tremendous strength and a vulnerability.  Through the miracle of IT Governance, we will actively manage the right amount of diversity.


The Federation


Star Trek’s government of the future is an interstellar federal state consisting of member planets and colonies.  They operate under a democracy and have a military.  Similar to the United States Constitution, there are guarantees of rights to individual members.


Goddard’s Federated IT governance supports the individuality of the mission areas while supporting a common defense of a strong infrastructure.  It defines processes for making decisions, with input and representation from all mission areas.  It supports the mission strategy of NASA and ensures that the IT strategy is supportive and enabling.


So, nothing is better than being a Star Trek fan and the CIO of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.   As the Verizon FIOS flea would say … Wow.


Linda Y. Cureton



6 thoughts on “Star Trek Made Me Do It”

  1. wow, i think I may have just found my new favorite blog! haha… I am constantly made fun of by my fiance, she says im the only person on the planet who can watch the NASA channel ALL DAY LONG. I really enjoy this blog, I read a couple of posts so far and it’s a lot more humor than i’d expect from a NASA blog. The Star Trek connection is great… Kobayashi Maru, fantastic. A good amount of humor, but totally relevant. I really enjoy it. Keep it up!

    I’ll keep reading (You should look into FeedBurner or something to get some RSS going in here) if you ever need website design, or say… and RSS feed? Give me a shout.

  2. How is this unprofessional dribble relavent to IT? Perhaps instead of blogging all day, Ms. Cureton could spend our tax dollars more relevently.

    Last time I checked, the roles and responsibilities of a CIO didn’t involve entertaining the general public.

  3. Dear Taxpayer:

    I accept and respect your opinion on the professionalism of this post and will not comment on that, however, I would like to discuss how this relates to IT.

    Perhaps you stopped reading about the role and responsibilities of the CIO when it came to describing her role as a strategist and advisor to the head of the organization. Many do and it is often typical that many assume the role of the CIO stops at “fix my email” or “fix my blackberry”.

    Much has been written lately about the challenges that NASA has with IT Security. The solution, I believe, lies in game changing strategies that will get to the root cause … ineffective IT governance.

    In the Kobayashi Maru simulation, young, well-intentioned starfleet cadets made all the right moves and all the right decisions. In the end, it always ended the same … a failure. It was the courageous, game-changing strategy of the intrepid cadet and future leader superhero James T. Kirk that finally beat the game.

    Well-intentioned CIOs today can make the right maneuvers, employ the right diplomacy, and fire their phasers at the right time … and it still ends the same. It’s only through game-changing strategies executed by the right CIO in the right place at the right time that will produce an outcome other than an order to abandon ship and launch the escape pods after 18 months.

    I must say dear Taxpayer, that your obviously well-intentioned note did cause me to drop a tear or two, but it helped to to FOCUS on what my duty should be, though it took me nearly seven weeks to find the COURAGE of my voice. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t doubt whether or not I am that right CIO. But I do know that my duty is to public service and my responsibility is to advise the head of my organization about how IT can change the game. I’m not sure how entertaining that is, but that’s what today’s CIOs should do.

    Linda Cureton

  4. @taxpayer

    leave Linda alone

    She can very well be blogging from home.
    This blog is one of my faves being a CIO myself.


  5. It's better she's inspired from Star Trek and not The Simpsons (remember the “Deep Space Homer” episode?).

    There's probably a tie-in here too.

  6. I think has had a huge impact on all of us. It is no surprise that it has influenced key people at NASA as well.

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