Swarna Sinha

Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA

Aerospace Engineering and Mathematics

Principal Investigator: Dr. Butler Hine

Education and Experience:

If there is anything our generation has in common with prior generations, it is exploration. Part of humanity’s essence is to delve into the unknown, find new knowledge, and then create new things using that knowledge. Perhaps this idea struck my mind when I first saw historic videos of the Saturn V launch at the Kennedy Space Center. At the time, I was an eleven-year-old already walking in with an interest in flight. The picture of that rocket, synthesized from the most advanced technology of that era to overcome gravity with tremendous force, turned interest into fascination.

Pushing limits and taking on challenges are what I like to do the most. I also enjoy mathematics problems and all the struggles that come along with them. At the Pennsylvania State University, I am pursuing majors in aerospace engineering and mathematics.

My prior experience includes modeling power on solar arrays on a cube satellite at the Student Space Programs Laboratory (SSPL) at Penn State. In the summer of 2011, I interned at the MIT Space Systems Laboratory, where I worked on a sensor for a cube satellite as well as a satellite programming competition for middle and high school students. At the end of the summer, we got to see live video transmission from the International Space Station. It was amazing and amusing to see astronauts performing cartwheels across the station.

Throughout the past academic year, I have been studying orbital trajectories for the Lunar Lion, which is my university’s entry for the Google Lunar X Prize. Attitude and trajectory control methods are of utmost importance since we are trying to get our spacecraft to reach the Moon.

My ultimate goal is to work on propulsion systems. Although I would love to be an astronaut, I think developing a more efficient, less costly launch system is key to putting more individuals into space in the future. Iwould be happy to have a career focused on opening up space for a greater number of people. For this upcoming summer, I am very excited to work at NASA Ames with such a talented group of scientists and engineers. I hope to learn from everyone there and derive some exceptional memories.


I keep myself active by being the secretary of the Penn State International Dance Ensemble (PSIDE), which performs many different dances from all over the world. I am typically excited to do Indian folk dances. I also make it to the Taekwondo Club practices as my schedule permits and am part of the aerospace engineering honors society, Sigma Gamma Tau, at my university. In my free time, I write fiction stories and draw. Naturally, I am short on time, but I would someday like to thread my stories into a book.

When I am not in school, I love to travel and to learn about different cultures. I have been to India several times and studied abroad in China. The best parts of travel for me are learning languages, eating and trying to make ethnic cuisine, and finding historic spots. This summer, I am thrilled to be in California. Since I am from Pennsylvania, jumping to the opposite coast for an extended period of time is a new opportunity to see what’s out there.