Outstanding Black students get summer internships at leading aerospace companies.


From left to right: Ihsaan El-Amin, Deshawn Johnson,  Chanelle Taylor, and Papa Quainoo.

Four determined undergraduates from the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, Ihsaan El-Amin, Deshawn Johnson, Papa Quainoo, and Chanelle Taylor, have been named to the 2024 Patti Grace Smith Fellowship cohort.

Established in 2021, the Patti Grace Smith (PGS) Fellowship offers Black aerospace engineering students paid internships with top-tier aerospace companies, executive mentorship, and a grant of $2,500. Modeled after the Brooke Owens Fellowship, it was created to encourage and support Black excellence for undergraduate students who want to pursue aerospace engineering as a career.

Ihsaan El-Amin

The fourth-year undergraduate is headed to Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado, as a systems engineering intern. He transferred from Morehouse College last semester to pursue aerospace engineering and is focused on propulsion systems.

“I’m looking forward to the summit and connecting with other fellows. These friendships will probably last a lifetime. We will also have connections within the industry,” El-Amin shared.

At the tender age of seven, he became interested in aerospace through his mother’s friend, who worked at Boeing. In middle and high school, he realized he was good at math and science, so he decided to focus on it. But that’s not all he excelled in. In addition to his passion for aerospace, he plays multiple instruments, including the guitar, and is also a budding photographer.

Ihsaan El-Amin

Ihsaan El-Amin

Deshawn Johnson

Johnson, a cadet in the Air Force ROTC, will intern at The Aerospace Corporation, working on modeling, systems, and systems analysis in Washington, D.C. He will work with AE alumna Kaitlyn Fields (M.S. AE 2017), who returned to Georgia Tech recently to recruit for The Aerospace Corporation.

“I know this is going to motivate me even more. This experience helps me see what I like and don’t like regarding the industry. I’m also excited to see how what I’ve learned in class relates to the industry,” Johnson said.

As a child, he became interested in aerospace, watching "Star Wars" and other science fiction movies.

“When I grew up, I realized that space isn’t like the movies, but I still found it fascinating because there were so many unanswered questions about space. There are problems space may be able to solve as it relates to the human race. It’s cool to see how far we can go and how far we can push ourselves into space.”

The fourth-year undergraduate also serves as the event coordinator for the AE student organization AeroAfroAstro. After he graduates, the Georgia native plans to pursue his master’s degree and then hopes to head to the U.S. Space Force.

Deshawn Johnson

Deshawn Johnson

It’s no coincidence that the School secured 4 of the 29 fellowships from the PGS Foundation. AeroAfroAstro (AAA) and Women of Aeronautics & Astronautics (WoAA) hosted a fellowship panel in September 2023 to groom students for the Brooke Owens, Patti Grace Smith, Matthew Isakowitz, and Zero Factor Fellowships. Our students also received guidance and wisdom from AE master’s student Jesudunsin “Dunsin” Awodele, who received the fellowship in 2021 and did his internship at Boeing. Awodele, the president of AAA, felt it was his honor and duty to help his colleagues to succeed. When Yellow Jacket wins, we all win.

Papa Quainoo

Quainoo can’t wait to start his summer internship with Airbus U.S. Space & Defense as an assembly test and launch operations engineer.

“I am very keen to learn about the work life in the aerospace industry firsthand. I've asked so many people and gotten many different answers because it is a diverse field,” he shared.

The fourth-year undergraduate was worried about his chances because he decided to study abroad in the Limerick program in Ireland last year instead of completing his application.

“I wasn’t going to reapply because, in my mind, they would reject me because I made it to the semifinals but didn’t take part in the interviews last year. Dunsin encouraged me to reapply, and the rest is history,” Quainoo shared.

The Ghana native looks forward to meeting his fellow PGS fellows but also wants to be inspired by and learn from the mentors.

“I want to meet people who are where I want to be. I am the kind of person who sees someone accomplish something great and believes that I can do it, too. I hope that I can be that for someone as well. If I can do it, so can you,” he shared.

After he graduates, he plans to enter industry and pursue his master’s when he finds exactly where he wants to concentrate.

Papa Quainoo

Papa  Quainoo

Chanelle Taylor

Third-year undergraduate Taylor will land at Aurelia Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, this summer in their Space Research and Design Lab.

“I’m excited to step foot inside the aerospace industry and get paid to do something I love,” she exclaimed.

She has a passion for space vehicles and became interested in aerospace, watching science fiction movies like “Interstellar.” The Georgia native earned her associate's degree two weeks before graduating high school and was valedictorian at Columbia High School in Decatur. She received the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Cup that year as well.

Although she was born in Georgia, her parents are from Jamaica. She is a member of the Georgia Tech Caribbean Students Association.

“This award is very important to me as a first-generation American, first-generation high school graduate, and college graduate. It is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience in the field, and it will pay off in the future,” Taylor said.

She spent last summer in India for the AE India Study abroad and traveled all over the country on the weekends to places like Delhi, Agra, Chennai, Kochi, and Munnar.

The Georgia native plans to pursue a master’s degree in aerospace engineering after she graduates.


chanelle taylor

Chanelle Taylor

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