Stephanie Gowell

University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Aerospace Engineering

Principal Investigator: Dr. Bill Warmbrodt

Education and Experience:

I remember drawing a masterpiece, or what I thought was a masterpiece, while in my elementary art class. It was a watercolor paint and crayon drawing of space with me portrayed as an astronaut in it. Clearly, I was drawn to space even as a child, but I didn’t consciously discover my passion for space until college.

I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the most rewarding experience during my freshman year at the University of Michigan, the Student Space Systems Fabrication Laboratory (S3FL). S3FL challenged me over the past four years as a leader and a student. It opened my eyes to aerospace engineering, which soon became my major. My experiences on a CanSat project my freshman year and advising the CanSat project my sophomore year led me to CubeSat research and projects in S3FL for the rest of my undergraduate career. I had the privilege to project manage a CubeSat boom project my junior year, which I was lucky enough to fly with onboard NASA’s “Weightless Wonder” with my teammates. My senior year I focused on the administration side of S3FL and spacecraft operations for the University of Michigan CubeSats.

In the middle of my junior year, I also became heavily involved in the University of Michigan’s Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) Chapter’s council, which leads the SEDS’ initiatives on campus. Through my efforts with SEDS, I found a different view of space. Until I became involved in SEDS, I’d only focused on building /engineering projects because the design build test process seemed interesting, not WHY space is amazing or needs these projects for exploration. Something changed in me after attending many lectures on campus that SEDS hosted, but it was after Newspace 2011 that I completely understood that a career in the space industry is what I have to do with the rest of my life. I want to engineer spacecraft that enable scientists’ missions to explore planets and bodies and to learn about our origins and future.

Interests & Expectations:

NASA Academy is my dream come true and something I’ve worked towards throughout college. I’m extremely thankful to be awarded the privilege to participate this summer. The Academy provides me an amazing opportunity to join my love of space exploration and interest in engineering together. This program is an incredible opportunity that I look forward to growing from Academy with my new peers.

Future Plans:

I plan on returning to the University of Michigan in the fall to finish my final undergraduate course. I’ll then, hopefully, enter graduate school to begin a Masters of Space Engineering at the University of Michigan. Following completion of my masters, I plan to go work in the space industry as an engineer for a few years and obtain an MBA during that time so I can switch to a more business related role later in my career. My ultimate goal, however, is to go to space myself one day!