photo of Amanda Kaeni

Major

Aerospace Engineering

Technical Area

Space Flight

Hometown

Lake Forest, CA

What made you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree? 

When I was 6 years old my parents showed me Apollo 13 on a VHS tape. It instantly became my favorite movie for so many reasons and I would obsessively watch it every chance I could (I honestly still do now). Besides the fact that it’s an amazing movie, I was always so inspired by the resilience of the engineers on the ground that worked to get the astronauts home and I knew that that was what I wanted to do when I got older. 

Has involvement in student groups and/or organizations made a difference in your education?

When I got to UT, I had no idea what direction I wanted to take with this degree. Being able to participate in projects across the aerospace organizations allowed me to see how many different ways I could use my degree. I learned about coding autonomous quadcopters in Women in Aerospace for Leadership and Development (WIALD). I learned the basics of aircraft design and fabrication techniques for RC planes on the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles team (UAV). In the end, it was building my own certification rocket and working on a real hybrid engine test site in the Longhorn Rocketry Association (LRA) that really showed me how exciting working with rockets is and that it was the route I wanted to take with my career. 

How do you plan to use your ASE/EM degree in the future? 

My goal is to work for a commercial launch vehicle company as a test or launch engineer. I’ve learned through my internships that is truly nothing like the physical feeling of the ground and air shaking when a rocket engine is fired, and I still can’t believe that I can be paid to be a part of that process in the future. The next generation of rockets are going to truly change the world when it comes to cheaply launching satellites and it will be so exciting to work on those rockets. 

If you participated in study abroad, please include a brief description about your experience.  

I did the Engineering Design and Graphics Maymester in Vienna, Austria. Besides eating my weight in wiener schnitzel and sausage on weekdays, we only had class Monday through Thursday, so we were able to travel all over Europe on the weekends. I saw the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, went to a real disco and ate pork knee in Prague, and hiked through the most beautiful forest I’d ever seen in Germany. I was so lucky to have been able to experience so many new cultures and foods in the month that we had there. 

What are some things you really enjoy about living in Austin, TX?

I’ve always appreciated how big and diverse Austin is. I’ve had weekends where I went to a rock concert on Friday night, a football game on Saturday, and hike on Sunday. I feel like there are so few places where that’s a regular part of the city’s culture and I think it’s what makes Austin so special. 

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

  • In Persian, my middle name “Setareh” means “star” and my last name means “from the universe.” 
  • I’m an only child. 
  • My real goal and main priority in life after graduating and settling into a job is to adopt a dog.