Have you been wondering who that guy is with the soothing voice who keeps giving us all the up-to-date information on MSL in the NASA live feed? It's Al Chen, a systems engineer in the Entry, Descent, and Landing Systems and Advanced Technologies group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). On the Mars Science Laboratory team, he is the EDL Operations lead, co-leads the "Council of Atmospheres" team, and is the EDL Flight Dynamics lead.
Technical prowess is important, but isnt the whole battle - it might not even be the hardest part of the battle. Being able to communicate technical issues clearly to people who have less familiarity with the issue youre working is an important soft skill that often doesnt get discussed in school...
Also, tonight he's realizing part of a personal goal. On his page, he wrote his goal is "to lead the development and execution of a landing on another planetary body."