mark daniels photo

Current Job

President

Current Employer 

President, White Space Systems, LLC

Current Location

Chevy Chase, Maryland

Why did you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree?

I fell in love with space watching the Apollo missions. I also have always had a passion for flying.

What do you do in your current position?

I am providing consulting services to commercial space, aerospace, satellite communications, and venture capital organizations in the areas of technology innovation, business planning, technology / design reviews, system integration and test planning, launch operations, program management, proposal support, and space traffic management.

What do you like most about your job? What do you find most challenging?

I love working with people, game changing technology, and new ventures. The most challenging thing for me is the accelerating pace of technological change such as breakthroughs occurring in big data analytics and synthesis of multiple space and ground sensor data sets.

What are your career goals?

My vision is to help the UT Aerospace department and Austin grow a robust commercial space capability that also leverages government contracts. I would love to see spin outs formed working through the UT Engineering Innovation Center driven by students' new ideas and concepts, and expanding work with small satellites and big data analytics at the UT Spacecraft Laboratory, Center for Space Research, and Computational Engineering program.

Which of the following student projects/organizations were you involved with in ASE/EM?

AIAA

How did your experience in this organization help prepare you for your career?

Working in projects was important to learn the power of teams before working in industry.

Were you involved in any fellowships or internships? If so, please explain and discuss the benefits.

I was a co-op for three semesters and it proved invaluable. The co-op I had was with the company who had a predecessor to the current contract I work on, therefore it provided me familiarity with the work I am doing now. There are also others on our leadership team that I worked with as a co-op. Most importantly, you learn about the business aspect of engineering. In other words, it's not just solving academic problems, there are real applications to the engineering fundamentals learned, and the success of the company for which you work is critical to your performance. Additionally, working on teams and understanding what it takes to lead a team was something I learned as a co-op.

Do you recommend any particular focus for students other than academics to improve themselves as potential candidates for jobs?

Finding summer jobs, research projects, or other work that is related to aerospace while in school helps better position a student for jobs. Doing volunteer work or other outside school type projects make you more well rounded and helps also.

Are there courses at UT you wish you had taken? If so, which ones and why?  

I wish that I gone for an MS ASE.

Why did you choose one track over the other (atmospheric/space)?

I love space and that drove my decisions. I started with launch vehicles and moved into satellite communications because of financial stability. I love space and that drove my decisions. I started with launch vehicles and moved into satellite communications because of financial stability.

Who was your most influential ASE or EM professor and why?

Dr. Bob Schutz - He taught me computational orbital mechanics.

What has been your most influential ASE or EM course and why?

I loved orbital mechanics, structures and dynamics. They gave me the basic understanding of how launch vehicles and satellites fly and perform. Trajectory analysis is an important part of launching a satellite. Orbital mechanics is key for mission planning, constellation design and space traffic management.

What is one piece of advice you have for current students?

Follow your passion!

Do you have a favorite memory as a UT aerospace student?

Learning how the SR71 engines work and the aircraft performs. 

List three things that most people don't know about you.

  • My vision for expanding commercial space at UT and in Austin.
  • I like acoustic guitar and piano music.
  • I like coconut cream pie.