Full Sail University

Computer Science Grad Working on Apps for NASA’s GOES Program

De’Shaun Broadnax uses his passion for programming to help build software applications for the GOES Program and the Goddard Space Flight Center.

De’Shaun Broadnax wears a blue polo shirt and glasses. He is sitting outdoors and smiling.

De’Shaun Broadnax knew that he wanted to work in computer programming when he was in elementary school.

“I absolutely love to program,” says De’Shaun. “When I was in fourth grade, me and my cousin came up with this business to sell our toys and bikes. I figured that we couldn’t have a business without a website, so my first website was for our toy-selling company.”

Luckily, De’Shaun’s current job is a programmer’s dream. As a contract Software Engineer with Embedded Flight Systems, Inc., De’Shaun spends all day programming software applications for NASA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) Program at the Goddard Space Flight Center. De’Shaun’s passion for programming and his Computer Science bachelor’s degree from Full Sail University set him on his path to NASA — and his team recently won the Robert H. Goddard Award for their service to the Goddard Space Flight Center.

De’Shaun grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. After he built the website for his toy-selling company, he continued to teach himself about computers and programming. He learned HTML, CSS, and JavaScript when he was in middle school. When he was in seventh grade, he decided he wanted to attend Full Sail.

“My dad was a musician. He went to Full Sail but wasn't able to finish. I've always been creative, and I wanted to honor my family by getting my degree… What drew me to [Full Sail] was the innovation of the school. I was a creative kid, but the way I applied that creativity was through computers. I wanted to surround myself with other creatives,” De’Shaun says.

Full Sail’s Computer Science program helped De’Shaun harness programming basics so he could use technology to express his creativity. He learned foundational programming languages like C and C++, as well as other skills related to backend programming. He pushed himself to learn everything he could about software engineering; he even found a likeminded Full Sail student to run a web development and maintenance business with.

“I would wake up at 7 AM and walk to the Full Sail library. In the library, me and my friend Jamar would plan out which shopping center to go to. Our plan was to go door-to-door to every small business we could find and sell them a website,” he says.

De’Shaun’s business gave him professional programming experience and helped him find his current job. One of his web maintenance clients had a connection to NASA’s GOES program and encouraged De’Shaun to submit his resume for an internship. That internship turned into a part-time contract job as a Software Engineer for the GOES Program.

NASA’s GOES Program collects the Earth’s weather data from satellites positioned in space. NASA and NOAA use the data for weather reporting, rocket launches, commercial airline flights, and more. De’Shaun is on the support team for the GOES Program and the Goddard Space Flight Center, where GOES team members work. He spends his days programming software applications for the team and the flight center. Recently, he worked on a customized desk hoteling app, which helped the center transition to a hybrid work environment.

“The space flight center shut down because of COVID... A whole bunch of people wanted to stay home after COVID, they didn't want to go back [to the office]. So they decided to build a hoteling app and everybody who wanted to go to work could just book a desk,” De’Shaun explains.

De’Shaun’s team’s hard work on the hoteling app and other support tasks is paying off: They recently won the Robert H. Goddard Award for their service to the space flight center. De’Shaun knows that his persistence was key to his success; he thinks that the same mentality can help other aspiring programmers.

“No matter how stacked the odds are against you, you don't give up. And the moment that you think that you failed, you haven't until you’ve given up… That's what I could tell somebody else is just keep going.”