What is your next adventure?
I've just been accepted into the Northrop Grumman Future Technical Leaders program, which means I will be working three one-year rotations as a systems engineer at different branches of the company. We're still discussing what my first assignment will be, but I’m hoping to start out in Baltimore.
What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?
It will be really nice to have a real paycheck and regular hours. Just being a normal person - not a grad student. And I'm from the D.C. area so it will be nice to be close to family and friends. Also, something I've found in grad school is that I've always done my best work when someone says 'here's my problem - solve it.' I'll work hard to find a clever, well-engineered solution. I'm a fixer who finds different answers along the way, rather than waxing philosophical about the process. I'm looking forward to all of the work and brainstorming, but there's an endpoint, too. I like that.
Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?
My final two summers at Princeton, I did internships at SpaceX in avionics mechanical design. The summer of 2016, I did an internship at Raytheon where I did a lot of coding work for simulating missile behavior. When I received the NDSEG [National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship] I had a chance to pick my research. That's when I started my ASDL research on ballistic missile defense for Navy ships. The goal was to develop a simpler model for checking the numbers and seeing what's going on. I also helped do trade-off studies, develop missile models, and work on the simulated 'battle manager.’ Also, my Grand Challenge project was to design a long-range air-to-air missile. My final two years as a grad student I worked on a GTRI-sponsored project for low-fidelity, high-efficiency simulation of radars. I worked to process big data sets generated by radar signals interacting with actual terrain.
How did your educational experience at Georgia Tech help you to achieve your goal?
The biggest thing is doing applied research and interacting with industry. My biggest weakness coming out of my undergraduate education was that I didn't know how it all worked together. At Tech -- and in particular at ASDL -- I would run into industry experts all the time and be able to learn from them and their experiences.
What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?
I think Tech was absolutely amazing for me and I have no regrets. My recommendation for incoming graduate students would be to not be afraid to go outside your comfort zone in research or in classwork. I took hard courses and I'm don’t regret them, even stats and probability where I got the worst grade of my career. I also did the Sam Nunn Security Fellowship program. The goal is to help bridge the engineering/policy divide and it did just that. I got introduced to a non-partisan branch of government that does day-to-day analysis and remains impartial. I was taught by someone who does war analysis in the Pentagon. We met Vice President Pence's national security advisor and we gave a presentation before the Joint Special Ops University in Tampa. The Sam Nunn School is one of the reasons I chose Tech, and I think it will remain a fantastic resource for me going forward.