Alumni Profile - Jason Andringa '99
A Natural Inventor
From his years at Calvin and semesters in a NASA student program, through his graduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and his work in the field of aerospace engineering, Jason Andringa has been working to expand how we see the universe.
“I feel very close to God when I’m able to discover more about the intricacies of the universe and the beauty of it in a scientific sense.”
Though he had initially planned to be an astronaut, Andringa most recently held a position as staff engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), a federally funded research and development facility managed by the California Institute of Technology. At JPL, he worked on some facet of every Mars mission that will occur through NASA in the next five to 15 years.
Andringa realized he wanted to be an engineer the summer prior to his first year at Calvin, when he worked side by side with his grandfather as they built a cabin. He saw how invention and curiosity opened new pathways for understanding the world. “My grandpa is very much a born engineer, and even though he didn’t go to college, by nature he’s an inventor.”
During his fourth and fifth years at Calvin, Andringa alternated semesters between classes on campus and a NASA student program in Houston, Texas. In Houston, he worked on a crew return vehicle for the International Space Station and developed concepts for manned missions to Mars.
Andringa credits his liberal arts education with providing a framework for pursuing his love for learning and his desire for adventure. “I think because I took so many different classes I was able to get a sense of the big picture — how our work all ties together. My desire to learn, explore and understand the universe to the fullest extent was encouraged by all my professors at Calvin, in science and religion.”
A person who loves to fly planes, scuba dive, cycle, ski and play basketball in his free time, Andringa is experiencing yet another life adventure as he recently moved from JPL to begin work in his family’s business. With his wife, Carolyn ’00, and young son, Andringa has relocated to the Midwest to work at Vermeer Manufacturing, a company his inventor grandfather founded 55 years ago. It’s a transition that he says is a “personal event of renewal.”
“My desire to learn, explore and understand the universe to the fullest extent was encouraged by all my professors at Calvin, in science and religion.”
Segment Manager, Vermeer Manufacturing
Former Staff Engineer, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab
Calvin College, B.S. ’99; MIT, M.S. ’01
University of Southern California, MBA ’05