Michael Staab

M.S.A.E. 2015

Next Adventure: Spacecraft Operations Engineer for Cassini Mission, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Previous co-op, internship, or research experience?
I did work with Dr. Mavris focusing on manufacturing influences on the cost of producing launch vehicles. A lot of the materials that will be used in future launch vehicles are new, lighter, composites that haven't been used  before. We looked at manufacturing data to make some cost predictions.

Most looking forward to...
I'll be working in the spacecraft operations center for Cassini, which will be really neat because not many people get to do that. In fact, I'll be one of just four people in the world who will be capable of flying the Cassini spacecraft. That project will be finished in 2017, when Cassini is scheduled to burn up. Then I'm looking at Mars 2020 or the Europa Mission to Jupiter...all of this will put me in the right place if I ever get the opportunity to be an astronaut.

How did your educational experience at GT-AE help?
I had an awesome undergraduate experience in Kansas, but I can truly say that when I came to graduate school at Georgia Tech it was a completely different atmosphere. It was far more rigorous. I learned how to manage multiple projects. They pushed me to see how much I was really capable of doing without imploding. (Laughs). I think most people don't get a chance to get pushed that hard in life.

Academics are good, but you have got to get out and do extracurriculars, get involved. I was one of the founding members of the K-17 [rocket] project, a member of the Triathlon Club, a Graduate Senator, and a member of AIAA. It all shaped me. Academics can only take you so far -- and the academics do push you at Tech -- but if you want to succeed, you have to get your hands dirty. You have to get out there and design things.