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Meet Kevin J DeBruin of DeBruin Enterprises in Hawthorne

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin J DeBruin.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
If you told me five or more years ago that I would quit NASA to be a self-employed Space Educator, I would have said you’re out of your mind, but here I am. I fell in love with space education after my 5th-grade teacher asked me to come back and give a presentation to the school after I had a NASA internship. The feeling I got afterwards was surreal and extremely unexpected, but seeing all the little kids’ eyes light up and hearing all the interesting questions they asked filled my heart up. I inspired some children with what I know and what I did.

Once I got my full-time job at NASA JPL in Pasadena, CA as a Systems Engineer, I became part of the Speakers Bureau and was the most active member. I would go out and give talks to schools, libraries, and other organizations almost every week, sometimes multiple times a week. This was all purely volunteer work. There then came a point that I realized I had a new dream, a new passion, and that was to educate as many people as possible about the wonders of space exploration and its importance to us here on Earth. To pursue this endeavor, I decided I needed to put all my focus into it and leave NASA.

For those interested in reading how I got into NASA and some of my work there, I published a book titled To NASA & Beyond available on Amazon and Audible.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
When I left NASA, I wasn’t making enough income as a Space Educator to survive, so I worked for another aerospace company, The Aerospace Corporation, while I built up my brand, my experience, and my company. I had a higher salary there which I invested into my business and also had a more flexible work schedule to allow me to pursue more opportunities. After leaving NASA, I could actually then use the title Former NASA Rocket Scientist to give myself increased credibility because while working at NASA, I could accept no compensation for my education efforts. After about 10-months following leaving NASA, I was able to leave my other job and become fully self-employed as a Space Educator.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m a Space Educator, I teach about space! I make complex concepts easily digestible and fun. I bring space down to Earth in a way that everyone can understand and relate to.

I create my own educational videos, which can be found on YouTube.com/APlaceCalledSpace and my Instagram @kevinjdebruin. I’m also CuriosityStream’s Brand Ambassador for all things space and science. I travel the world teaching giving speeches and space camps. Any aspect that has to do with educating about space, that’s me! A Place Called Space is mostly focused at the elementary school level and my Instagram is more teenage to adult based. I have covered the whole age range from preschoolers to retirees in my space education events.

I would say there are two things that set me apart. The first being my work experience to give credibility to my education. I have the degrees and work experience with NASA. With the digital age, any space enthusiast can create a platform to share information. You can trust I know what I’m talking about and I’ve done my homework…literally 19 years of it haha. Second is that I try to be as tangible as possible. Space is literally something we cannot touch, nor see most of without a telescope or spacecraft data. I always use props like an inflatable solar system and Legos instead of pictures or animations. I want it to feel like a playroom of sorts where we can play with space toys and learn about it!

What were you like growing up?
I was a kid always asking questions and my mom said when I was little that I would grow into an engineer. She was definitely right! I played a lot of sports as a kid and fitness still play a huge role in my life. I actually credit it as to why I made it through grad school, fitness de-stressing got me my Master’s degree. I grew up with an older brother of just 15-months and we got into a good amount of trouble as brothers do, we were explorers and always tried to figure things out. Space was obviously an interest for me. It started really when I watched the movie October Sky at 10-years old. I knew I wanted to design spaceships after that and I most certainly had those glow in the dark stars on my ceiling.

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