Grace Krahn

M.S.A.E 2023

What is your next adventure?
Starting in February, I plan on traveling through Europe and backpacking from Norway to Italy. I’ll fly into London, then make my way to Norway and then work my way south to Rome, Italy by train.  I studied abroad at the Georgia Tech Europe campus in the spring of 2020, so my semester was cut short by COVID and I didn’t get the full semester-long experience.

What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to exploring places I’ve never been and getting back some of that lost time. I plan on spending one to two months abroad, so I won’t have to rush from place to place. I’m excited to visit art galleries and museums, discover new cultures, and see the Northern Lights while I’m in Norway.  I’m also looking forward to starting an exciting career in the commercial space industry when I get back from my travels.

Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?
I completed the BS/MS Program, so I’ve been at Georgia Tech for almost six years and had a lot of different internship and research opportunities. I worked for one semester at the CAMM Lab Special Purpose Vehicles VIP learning controls under Prof. Mark Costello. I spent a semester conducting research with Prof. Tim Lieuwen at the Ben T. Zinn Combustion Lab, which then led me to the Space Systems Design Lab where I worked with Prof. Glenn Lightsey over the last year of my undergrad on Lunar Flashlight mission operations. I wanted to work more closely with flight hardware and spacecraft in Dr. Lightsey’s lab, so I started my master’s education in Fall of 2022 as a graduate research assistant on the VISORS mission.

VISORS (Virtual Super-Resolution Optics Using Reconfigurable Swarms) is a multi-university CubeSat that is comprised of two separate 6U CubeSats that precisely maneuver relative to each other in space to form one distributed telescope. Its goal is to take detailed images of the solar corona by having one satellite act as the telescope optics while the other holds the camera at a 40-meter focal length, which is extremely close by space terms!

We’re currently in assembly, integration, and testing (AIT) process for the mission. As the VISORS systems engineering lead, it has been both a great adventure and very challenging to navigate such a complex project that involves so many other universities and institutions.

I did four internships while a student at Tech, with the first two being at Lockheed Martin Skunkworks. The first internship was working in the systems integration laboratory and the second internship was in conceptual design for aircraft, which was really exciting. It was basically like AE Senior Design, but in industry, so I really enjoyed that job and working on the very early stages of design. I then interned at Blue Canyon Technologies as a systems engineer intern working on VISORS – the same mission I would later that year devote my research time to in graduate school. Finally, my internship last summer was at Sierra Space in their Advanced Development Programs department, working on the concept development of spacecraft.

How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goals?
Tech really gave me the tools to be able to tackle problems. I’m a systems engineer at heart, so through the training and courses I’ve taken, I now always look through things from an overall perspective first and that’s been a really helpful approach when solving problems. My time at Tech hasn’t been easy and through the coursework and projects I feel like, if I can do this, I can do anything.

What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?
First, I would say, apply to the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program (or programs like it), especially if you want a career in space. Being a MIFP Fellow cemented my goal of wanting to work in commercial space and it allowed me to meet so many inspiring people. Also,

If you really want to explore different parts of the industry, now is the time to do it. I had a situation after my second internship with Lockheed Martin where they gave me a return offer and I had to make a choice. On one hand, I really liked the job, but on the other I wanted to try exploring the space industry after only experiencing the aeronautics side. I wanted to learn more about working on space projects, so I decided to take a risk and decline the offer. What later came from that a few months later was another internship with a commercial space company – Blue Canyon Technologies. I found that through and through, I’m an aerospace girl, so it didn’t matter if I was pursuing space or airplanes; I love all aspects of it and was open to different positions. However, that specific internship with Blue Canyon Technologies really helped me get my foot in the door and I was able to get funding for graduate school and funding for the VISORS project that I’m working on now. I’m really happy that I took the risk because right now was the time to do it, so be bold.