Melody Marshall

B.S.A.E. 2020

What is your next adventure?

I will be commissioned in the Air Force Reserves as a second lieutenant, - specifically, a space operations officer. When I report to training, it will be as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Space Force.

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

I am so excited to be entering the Space Force, as one of the first officers. I've always thought it was important for the United States to focus on space and I am so grateful that I now have the skills to contribute to it. It's especially exciting for me because I started out at Tech as a biomedical engineering major and I switched majors (and joined the ROTC) at the end of my first year. It was a big jump, but I found myself more interested in physics than chemistry, and all of the AE students I met seemed to be headed in the same direction. It was a great choice.

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

As an ROTC student, I wasn't able to leave campus for internships, but I did get some great research experience this past semester at GTRI with the Aerospace Transportation Advanced Systems (ATAS) lab where I worked on small unmanned aerial systems [UAS]. It was a lot of systems engineering research. I was looking up information about UASs - finding what analysis tools would work best to determine their capacity, their performance. And it was eye-opening.

Also, it wasn't formal research, but when I found out I was joining the Space Force, I took two AE Options classes with Professor Lightsey that gave me an introduction to research. In one of them we were doing research to create a preliminary mission plan for a NASA mission to Europa. I also took one on space flight operations.

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

 At Tech, everything fell into place - transferring to the AE major, great professors, joining ROTC - but it wouldn't have all fallen together if there hadn't been so many opportunities for me to take. Once I got into AE, I was able to explore everything - fixed wing, rotorcraft, and space. Once I took Vehicle Performance, which only briefly touches on space, I knew that's where I wanted to go. By the time I took classes with Dr. Lightsey, I knew that I was going into the Space Force for my career, but, maybe because he's a great passionate professor, I was just fascinated by it all. I loved going to class.

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

I would say don't be discouraged by your failures. Georgia Tech is a very hard place, where you are bound to stumble a little. Instead of looking down at your failures, I'd say look up to see what you can take advantage of. Be inspired by what's around you. 

I'd also say stick to what you think makes sense. When I decided to join the ROTC, it was when I was transitioning into the AE School. A lot of people questioned this decision - no one in my family had gone into the military - but I could see that a lot of the jobs in aerospace were associated with the Department of Defense. It was the perfect fit for me.