New Adventure: Guidance navigation & control engineer for Orbital ATK in Virginia. I'll be working on Cygnus, their automated resupply vehicle that's used for the Space Station.
Previous co-op, internship, or research experience?
I've been doing research at Georgia Tech since my sophomore year, when I did large system optimization research with Dr. German. Later, I joined Dave Spencer 's team, where I did guidance navigation and served as the project manager for Prox 1. For the last six months, I've been working as an attitude determination and control engineer on the LightSail B project, designing the algorithms that control it and writing the flight software. With the support of the NASA Space Technology Research Fellow (NSTRF) program, I also did two summer research internships at NASA Marshall as a graduate student. Last summer I worked at Ball Aerospace in Colorado.
Most looking forward to...
There are two ways to go in my field - concept development and implementation. My biggest interest at this point is in implementation. I want to build the hardware on a spacecraft and see it fly. And that's what I'll be able to do.
How did your educational experience at GT-AE help?
The coursework at GT-AE is very good, very rigorous. I mean you might complain as an undergraduate - I did - but you are getting the fundamentals that will allow you to be more effective in the long run. The other thing about AE is that you have access to a lot of hands-on research projects, like Prox 1, where you put your knowledge to the test. It's trial by fire, because sometimes you're off. But when you are applying for jobs, industry likes to see that you know how to bring your ideas to execution.
I would say that working on hands-on projects or applications -- either through research or through an extra curricular activity - is the way to go. It helps you to specialize, to figure out what you are really interested in doing and what you don't like. And having that experience, I believe, helped me get above the competition when I was applying for jobs.