Swapnil Pujari

B.S.A.E. 2016

What is your next adventure? After graduation  I'll fly to California for a summer internship at the Jet Propulsion Lab where I'll be working as a systems analysis engineer on the Mars Sample Return Mission. When I return, I will be joining Dr. Glenn Lightsey's lab as a first-year graduate student.

What are you most looking forward to in your next adventure? In the near term, actually getting to contribute on a NASA mission - something that's going to Mars - and getting meet all of the people who work at JPL, well, it's literally out of this world. I'd love to work at JPL someday.

Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area that prepared you? I've done two internships as an undergraduate - doing finite element modeling at Gulfstream and doing mechanical design at the Harris Corporation. For the last three years, I've been working with Dr. [Dave] Spencer doing research for Prox-1, a satellite project. Right now, I'm the mechanical systems lead for the project. I've also gotten the opportunity to do a presentation with Dr. Spencer - "Mars Telecommunication CubeSat Constellation Feasibility  Study" - at the Interplanetary  Small Sat Conference at CalTech.

What about your educational experience at GT-AE helped you to achieve your goals? Well obviously it's a good educational experience. It's ranked high, and the professors are great. But the thing that set the School apart was the ability for undergrads to do research. The professors are willing to introduce you to the research they're doing and they expose you to bigger and bigger challenges as you go along. On Prox-1, I was able to contribute to a real ongoing project that gave me greater and greater challenges to solve.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to follow in your path? Get into projects. It doesn't have to be an aerospace project - it could be building an off-road vehicle - but doing something you really want to do is key. Classes are good at advancing you through the curriculum, but getting involved in a project will make you stand out. But also remember to have fun. You'll make friends at Georgia Tech that you'll have for a long, long time.