What is your next adventure?
I finished my doctoral degree requirements at the beginning of the semester, so I was able to start my adventure a little early. In January, I started as an assistant professor at Illinois Institute of Technology teaching an undergraduate aerospace propulsion course.
What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?
I’m excited to start a new chapter after graduate school. I’ve been living in Georgia for the past seven years as a graduate student, so I’m looking forward to going into academia and applying for research grants, teaching, and having my own lab. I’ve already started receiving emails from students interested in working with me, which has been pretty exciting. I’m in the process of building my lab and then getting all of the equipment, so it’s an exciting time.
Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?
I taught aerospace propulsion this semester, but my research was mostly in systems engineering with the Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL).I worked on projects with Airbus, conducting research on model-based systems engineering (MBSE) and aircraft design. It ended up being the most interesting tome so I came up with a novel idea and pursued my thesis after that project. I also worked on a NASA project for hybrid propulsion systems and participated in several other interesting research areas in ASDL.
How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goals?
In my research, I used computational techniques and found out that there’s a joint program at Georgia Tech with computational science and engineering (CSE) and aerospace engineering. I participated in that and that’s how I got a second masters. It really helped me learn the concepts that I used in my aerospace research and apply them. Also, my advisor, Prof. Mavris, taught me how to convey my ideas efficiently, to be able to explain research to people from different backgrounds. This skill helped me when I was looking for jobs as well, because with academic jobs you need to be able to explain your research to other people and one of the most important things is that you can explain it well and that people can understand you.
What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?
Networking is really important. Getting to know people in your area and then getting known in that area is very important, but it happens gradually. This is something to keep in mind throughout the grad school process. Whenever you have a chance to participate in a conference, or you meet with a professor in your area and would like to talk about your research, it’s best to take those opportunities.
Plan. Planning is really important especially when seeking a career in academia. When you’re applying for academic positions, you need to create so many materials in order to apply. That includes cover letter, research statement, teaching statement, and so on. Georgia Tech has CETL (Center for Teaching and Learning) and they were a really helpful resource for me in terms of their workshops. I also took some classes from them, and they went through my application materials and taught me how to prepare them. If you want to pursue an academic career, I recommend getting involved with CETL. For instance, I started my search almost a year before I needed to apply so that I could create the best materials. Look at it as an iterative process. You create your materials, you get feedback from your colleagues or your professors and then you revise them many times until you apply.
For international students: Try being open minded and don’t get too anxious. As an internationalstudentI was very afraidofnot being able to find a job because of citizenshiprequirements. I wasanxious all the time, but looking back there were a lot of opportunities to explore, so be open minded tothe opportunities around you. You can go somewhere and get experience and build your backgroundand possibly come back to those opportunitiesthat you couldn’t get beforeor find new ones.