ciara waldron alumni profile

Job Title

Space Operations Engineer II

Employer 

SpaceX

Location

Los Angeles, CA

Why did you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree?

Aerospace engineering combines my passion for space and space exploration and my love for engineering.

What do you do in your current position?

Responsible engineer for SpaceX ISS cargo re-supply mission operations. I own procedural changes for mission operations and joint operational products with NASA.

What are your career goals?

To contribute to the effort of making human life a multi-planetary species and colonize Mars.

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

Sigma Gamma Tau (SGT), Women in Aerospace for Leadership Development (WIALD), LUNAR Council

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

Hands-on technical project experience with WIALD was really valuable. Especially the projects where we had to work with the FAA to file flight plans for our high-altitude balloon launch. I work with regulatory agencies such as the FAA, Air Force Range Safety and NASA on a regular basis in my career. 

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

I worked very hard to do as many internships as I could while I was in school. I wanted to experience as many different areas of the industry as possible to figure out where I wanted to start my career. Each of the experiences I had gave me a different perspective about what it's like to work in industry, different working environments, paces of work, overarching company missions. There are a lot of options out there where you can apply an ASE degree. I really appreciate the opportunities I had, each one of these was valuable to me in a different way: 
    
   Summer 2010 - Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control 
   Summer 2011 - NASA Johnson Space Center - Robotics and Simulation Division 
   Summer 2012 - SpaceX Rocket Development Facility 
   Summer 2013 - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Mars Advanced Studies 
   Fall 2013 - SpaceX Vandenberg Launch Site - Vehicle and Payload Integration 

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

SPACE!! Yes, I've been entirely focused on space launch systems and spacecraft throughout my career. The dream was always to leave the atmosphere. 

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

I wish that I had gone for an MS ASE.

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

Applied orbital mechanics - one of the main courses I've really utilized in my career path. 

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

Don't be afraid to really put yourself out there and try something new. Looking back on it, doing the stuff I was nervous about and put me out of my comfort zone is what helped me grow as an engineer. 

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ASE/EM Academy of Distinguished Alumni

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