Sammies finalist investigates transportation accidents

Tuesday - 7/24/2012, 11:15am EDT

James Cash, chief technical advisor, Office of Research and Engineering, National Transportation Safety Board

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For nearly three decades, James Cash, chief technical advisor for the National Transportation Safety Board's Office of Research and Engineering, has used his engineering expertise to extract information from airplane cockpit recorders and other recording devices to determine the causes of major transportation accidents.

For his work as the NTSB, Cash is a finalist for the Service to America medals.


What three words best describe your leadership philosophy?

I can help. I have always been a person and supervisor that won't ask someone to do what I haven't been willing to do. I believe that as a leader you should have a basic understanding and ability to do what your employees are doing.

What's the best piece of advice (or words of wisdom) you've ever received and who gave it to you?

"Everyone gets one major screw up, and you just used yours." My wing commander when I was a pilot in the Air Force. I believe everyone should get a second chance just don't expect to get a third.

Who is your biggest role model and why?

My high school principal. He made me realize that there wasn't anything I couldn't do, knowing that It isn't going to be easy, and you must be willing to put in more than the minimum amount of effort

What's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome (personally or professionally) and how did you overcome it?

My engineer-nerd-ish has been my biggest obstacle. I think I would have to say that it is still a work in progress, because people still tell me I haven't overcome it.

What's the last thing you read and what's next on your reading list?

This month's Popular Mechanics. I'm looking forward to next month's.

What's your favorite bureaucratic phrase?

"We're from Washington and we're here to help."

Meet the rest of the 2012 Sammies finalists.