March 8, 2021

photo of catherine dominicCatherine Dominic, a sophomore aerospace engineering major from Sugarland, TX, was selected to receive a Brooke Owens Fellowship for 2021. Dominic joins two former students in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics to receive the award – Josefina Salazar in 2018 and Mykaela Dunn in 2019.

The highly competitive fellowship program was created to inspire and support young women and other gender minorities pursuing careers in the aerospace industry. Each year, forty “Brookie” fellows are selected and matched up with paid internships at leading aerospace companies and organizations where they work with senior and executive level members.

We chatted with Catherine to learn more about what inspired her to pursue her studies in aerospace and to learn more about the internship she’ll be doing this summer.

Tell us about the internship you’ll be doing as part of the Brookie program.

Once you become a Brookie, there are three stages before being assigned your internship which include answering some prompts, meeting with past Brookie fellows, and interviews with companies that you’ve matched with for your future internship. For the prompt, I decided to create a video to answer the question, “What makes you more than your GPA?” and posted this to my YouTube channel.

One of the companies I was paired with was Amazon Prime Air. When I interviewed with the hiring manager, we discussed my work on composites as part of the UT Design, Build, Fly team and he became very interested in my skills since that was his area of specialty. In the end, it was a mutual pairing, so that’s where I’ll be interning this summer. One thing I’m really excited about for this internship is the fact that I will be the only intern working there, so I should have a good opportunity to make a big impact. I’m not quite sure what the project will be yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Tell us some more about your experience with Design, Build, Fly and other student projects or organizations in which you’re participating.

I have been serving as the president and project manager of the UT Design, Build, Fly (DBF) team since fall. It’s been a bit difficult since we haven’t had much access to the lab because of the pandemic, but we are working around that. While there won’t be an in-person competition this year, we’ll still be able to build and fly our aircraft here in Austin and record the mission flights for submission into the annual AIAA DBF competition, which is now a virtual fly-off. So, this year instead of using composites like fiberglass and resin, we plan to 3D print all of our aircraft parts. I’ve also recently started socially distant “walkie-talkie” sessions with first-year DBF members who haven’t yet had a chance to really get acclimated to campus because of the pandemic. And just this spring, I was accepted into the Texas Rocket Engineering Lab where I’ll be learning more about rocketry as a member of the structures team.

What about student organizations related to your interest in social entrepreneurship?

I’ve also been heavily involved with the UT organization SELL – Social Entrepreneurship Learning Lab – which involves learning about the principles of social entrepreneurship. My project was “A Drone-based Solution to Medical Delivery in the Syrian Landscape Due to the Syrian Civil War.” Hospitals are being targeted by the Syrian government and there aren’t enough medical supplies for doctors to administer to their patients, so this offers a solution by having drones deliver those much-needed medical supplies to cities in Syria.

How do you think your experience as a Brookie will help shape your future career?

At this point in my student career, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to take a lot of aerospace-related courses. From this internship I expect to gain a lot of technical experience and growth that I haven’t been able to do in the field yet. I’m especially excited to learn very specific nitty-gritty skills that I can apply not only in my future classes and projects, but also talk about when I begin interviewing for a full-time job.