Dawn Andrews

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Dawn Andrews
B.S. AE '18

What is your next adventure?

I am coming back to the AE School for a master's degree. My research plans are still ocillating between systems and structures. Overarching it all is design: seeing something in my head come to life is very exciting to me. I'm glad I'll have options.

What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?

The best thing is that I won't have to stop doing anything I love here. It all gets to keep growing. And while I know it will be different, I am excited to be able to keep working with this family - the AE School.

Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?

My first research experience was in 2016, when I joined the R.A.N.G.E. project with Dr. Gunter. I was on the structures subteam. Then I joined the T.A.R.G.I.T. cubesat project, again the structures subteam. After that I joined Dr. Holzinger on the Omnissa cubesat project, where I worked on physical integration of the satellite - hooking up the thermal control systems. Because it's going to the Antarctic, the TCS for that environment was a really hard task. How do you protect it from all of the elements and maintain the right internal temperature?

I also did work in Dr. Ruzzene's lab because I was searching for something really technical, more theoretical. A little more like the academic work I'd expect in grad school.

My internship experience has been at SpaceX. I guess you'd say I found my love and stuck with it. I interned there beginning in the summer of 2017 as a part of their mission management. I was a customer operations and integration intern. I got to work directly with customers, like the Air Force, all of them on the government side. I bridged the gap between the way SpaceX does it and the way our customers do it. It pulled heavily on the systems-level work I'd done on cubesats at AE.  Through the one-and-a-half rotations on this assignment, I learned all of the pieces of the rocket.

For my next rotation at SpaceX, which began January of 2019, I worked in vehicle engineering design. I got to work with a variety of systems, test engineering, design tools, and design work. This gave me such a breadth of experience, obviously, but when you are working at a place like SpaceX, you have no choice but to gain depth as well.

How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goals?

Georgia Tech almost never tells you 'no.' There's always a direction you can choose to learn more. That's what I've been discovering.

And it's really been the take-away everywhere I go: there's always a fundamental aspect of teamwork, of the greater sense of purpose that a team can make possible. We wouldn't be able to go to space at all if it weren't for massive teams of experts who are each working on the entire endeavor. I've seen it at SpaceX.

My time at AE had that same effect: the school is a community where everyone has demanding goals and is relentlessly chasing them down. It's a great place to be.

What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?

You have to learn to say it for yourself, but the message is: if you are passionate, go do it. There won't be one specific right way to do everything. It's such an uplifting community to be a part of.

I could say I've learned to say 'no' but it's really that I've learned to be intentional. I'm passionate, but I am intentional about doing things that I care a lot about. When you keep that in mind, the resilience and patience you need comes more naturally. You know you are following your passion.