What is your next adventure?
Later this summer, I am going to NASA JPL to start as a telecommunications engineer.
What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?
I’m excited to be moving to California. I’ve lived in Georgia my whole life and Atlanta has been home for the last six years, so I’m excited to go somewhere new. I’ve been interested in working there since freshman year after attending a JPL info session. It’s exciting to look back six years ago to that moment and now I’m getting ready to work there full-time. They do a lot of deep space exploration which is my biggest interest, so I’m excited.
Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?
As an undergrad, I had a few internships in the space domain. After my second year I interned with Emergent Space Technologies as a space exploration GN&C intern. Then I went on to intern at Draper working on guidance, navigation, and controls (GNC).
I’ve done research in the Space Systems Design Lab (SSDL) since undergrad, working with my advisor Dr. Glenn Lightsey on GPS and navigation of CubeSats. As a graduate research assistant I’ve been able to work with Dr. Lightsey on a JPL funded project on deep space relay and communication navigation.
How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goals?
One of the big reasons I decided to continue to grad school was because I knew what area of research I wanted to go in and knew the AE School’s graduate curriculum offered even more exposure to it. There were several classes through the grad program that were essential for me. They allowed me to be able to do the work on my research and get the position I landed with JPL. The grad program is designed in such a way that you build on the skills and knowledge from undergrad and it makes more sense. Because I chose the BS/MS program it was a pretty seamless process to stay with my lab and continue my research projects.
What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?
Remember, there are so many different paths you can take. Start early and look into different options that can set you out on a path. Undergraduate research is my favorite recommendation to give to students because my experience in the SSDL was awesome and helped me grow. I’d encourage students to reach out to professors expressing their interested in their research as early as the first year at Tech, because you may not get into a particular lab that first time or they may not have any positions available, but it’s good to start early because something will work out eventually. Also, with research it’s about being able to do it for a couple of years because your first semester will be mostly learning the ropes and overcoming the learning curves. The more time you put into research the more you will get out of it.