Politics, government and public life for Southern California

JPL's 'Mohawk Guy' to sit with First Lady at State of Union

JPL's Bobak Fedowsi shows off his festive Mars-landing haircut

Sanden Totten/KPCC

JPL's Bobak Fedowsi shows off his festive Mars-landing haircut. He'll sit in the first lady's box Tuesday night during the president's State of the Union address.

President Obama will highlight immigration reform at Tuesday's State of the Union address. The White House has invited an Iranian-American flight director from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to highlight the president's call for more visas for math, science and engineering experts.

When the Rover Curiosity made its safe landing on Mars last summer, President Obama called to crongratulate the science team at the Jet Propulsion Lab.  He mentioned "the mohawk guy," flight director Bobak Ferdowsi, saying he'd considered trying Ferdowsi's distinctive hairstyle.

Now, the "Mohawk Guy" is going to the State of the Union, sitting with Michelle Obama. The White House says the First Lady's box will include various guests whose lives would benefit from the president's proposals.

Those guests represent victims of gun violence, military families and people championing the cause of immigration reform. Ferdowsi will illustrate one element of the immigration debate: the need for more visas for highly trained immigrants in science, technology, engineering and math — so called STEM visas.

When Ferdowsi isn't working on the Curiosity mission, he volunteers as a robotics mentor to excite kids about STEM subjects.

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