Mr. Patterson has been employed at the NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) since 1985. In 2009 Mr. Patterson was selected as a member of the United States federal government Senior Executive Service (SES), being named as the NASA Senior Technologist (ST) for In-Space Propulsion, and he continues to serve in this position today.
Prior to his ST position Mr. Patterson led a variety of propulsion programs, projects, and products, including:
* Design engineer for NASA's Deep Space One and Dawn missions 30 cm xenon ion thruster;
* Principal Investigator for NASA’s Next Generation Ion Propulsion System (NEXT) development program (2001 – 2015);
* Project Prometheus (Electric Propulsion) Lead (2003-2005) for the proposed Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) mission;
* Technical lead for cathode development for the International Space Station plasma contactor system, and electric propulsion applications, and design engineer for the International Space Station plasma contactor cathode;
Mr. Patterson has authored- and co-authored over 200 publications in electric propulsion and mission analyses, and holds 11 patents in electric propulsion and plasma source technology. He is recipient of: A Space Laurel Award from Aviation Week & Space Technology Magazine; Government Invention of The Year Award; The Astronauts’ Personal Achievement Award – “Silver Snoopy”; The NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal;A Group Achievement Award for Dawn Ion Propulsion System; "MVP Award" for outstanding service to Ares I-X Development Flight Test Program"; and others.