According to the bio on his website (only partial but awesome): "I took a roundabout route to becoming a novelist. Fresh from earning a BS in mechanical engineering from Rice University, I got a job with Lockheed working on the Space Station Freedom project at Johnson Space Center. I got to play with a lot of cool stuff like the space shuttle and station mockups, the robot arm, and the Precision Air-Bearing Floor, which is like a giant air hockey table that simulates microgravity. The best experience I had was when my job required me to fly on NASA's Vomit Comet, the same KC-135 plane used to train astronauts for zero gravity and to film the space sequences in the movie, Apollo 13. I didn't vomit.
After a couple of years at NASA, I decided to go back to grad school and get a PhD in industrial engineering from Virginia Tech. My specialty in ergonomics came in handy at RCA, where I designed electronic program guides for TVs and digital satellite systems. During my career at RCA, I earned eleven US patents."