Jacob Evans

B.S.A.E. 2023

What is your next adventure?

So, this summer, I’ll be doing an internship at Aerojet Rocketdynein West Palm Beach, FL. It's where I was last summer, and they invited me back. I'm going to be part of a systems engineering team that does a lot of performance analysis and testing on the RL10 engines. They also do some other cool design projects. And then in the fall, I will start my Master’s degree at Georgia Tech as part of the BS/MS program with the goal of completing that within a year. The BS/MS program lets you count some classes for both degrees and helps you get a little bit ahead. So, I already have a few credits towards my master’s and hopefully, it won't be too much of a burden to get it done in a few semesters.

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

I'm really excited to be back down in Florida this summer because I thoroughly enjoyed the work environment and the different projects that I did at Aerojet. They also have a big focus on space-based propulsion specifically for launch vehicles, which is a passion of mine that I've developed over the past couple of years. And they're located on the beach, which is a huge bonus.

I'm also looking forward to taking a deeper dive into some specific topics that I didn’t get to focus on in undergrad, specifically combustion, electric propulsion, and even deeper orbital mechanics. Those are all courses that you can take as a master’s student that I would find very rewarding for myself. And then obviously when you're doing a master’s, you can get more involved in research and do some pretty cool projects related to that.

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

I was down at Aerojet Rocketdyne last summer. I had one internship before that at a mechanical design firm that was pretty interesting, but it wasn't really related to aerospace and

wasn't really my long-term passion. It was more of just a placeholder. But yeah, working at Aerojet last summer, I spent most of my time designing a vehicle demonstrator for nuclear electric propulsion. So basically, I was involved in mission architecture, design and planning, vehicle sizing, and working on incorporating a bunch of different parts that can go on a spacecraft.  We created a mission to head to the moon LaGrange Point 2.

It was really worthwhile, and I believe I'll be able to work on that some more this summer as well.

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

I feel really fortunate to be able to attend a school with such a rigorous and well-designed curriculum for aerospace. I know lots of schools offer aerospace engineering programs, but Georgia Tech just does it really, really well. As an undergrad, you're exposed to a lot of different topics within aerospace that can help you narrow down what you want to focus on and what you find interesting, and then hopefully what you're good at. When I entered Georgia Tech, I knew I was interested in aerospace as just a general concept, but I didn't really have any idea what specifically I wanted to do. I got involved in undergraduate research at the Combustion lab a couple of years ago. It really helped me focus on propulsion and combustion and what I want to do in my career.

The combination of strong academics from the classes and then being able to do research at the combustion lab has really given me a lot of I'd say, foundational skills for taking with me to the workplace. I think it's hard to overstate the experience that you gain from doing hands-on projects. So, at the combustion lab, being able to physically build rigs that can run combustion experiments and learn how to wire different sensors together was important. Also being able to  use software like Labview and SolidWorks to help design parts really gave me useful experience.  

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

The first thing I would say is get involved and get involved early on at Georgia Tech. My biggest regret as an undergrad was not getting more involved in AE-focused clubs and organizations. There are a lot of really good ones, whether working at the maker space or participating in GT XR or YJSP. Those are all really great experiences that can not only give you some pretty good skills and hands-on experience in designing but can also help you form a better community at Georgia Tech and then within the aerospace program. Get involved with those clubs, they’re worthwhile, and the student leaders of those groups do a good job with them.

The second thing is to take time to enjoy yourself every now and then.

It's so easy at school to bury your head in work and not take a break in life. Whether it's keeping in touch with friends, finding a new TV show to watch, or joining intramural sports, participating in those can just do so much for your mental and physical health. Enjoy your time at college and make the most of your four years. Taking some breaks every now and then can be beneficial.