photo of katie mulry

Katie Mulry

Major

Aerospace Engineering

Technical Area

Space Flight

Hometown

Dallas, TX

What made you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree? 

When I was a freshman in high school, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut! Before that, my plan had been to be a creative fiction writer, since my hobby is writing novels, so this complete pivot in career plans led me to research lots of different STEM options. I did a high school program called NASA Texas High School Aerospace Scholars and a summer internship at UT through NASA called the STEM Enhancement in Earth Science program and realized that I was fascinated by aerospace engineering and the ability to design and test systems that send people and hardware to space. 

What has been your biggest reward while pursuing your aerospace degree at UT?

My biggest reward so far was completing our first hot-fire test of the Texas Rocket Engineering Lab's heat sink engine, TXE-1. I worked on the hot-fire team from the summer after my freshman year through all of last school year building our stand and serving on test crew through our torch igniter campaign. When hot-fire test day rolled around, I was on console pressing the "fire engine" button. Seeing the plume erupt out of our rocket engine on our test stand on the control room screens and feeling the building shake was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. My team had all put in countless hours, and to finally get to test our engine was so rewarding.

Who has been your most influential ASE or EM professor and why?

Dr. Lori Magruder has been my most influential professor. I took her Spacecraft Dynamics class last spring. It was Dr. Magruder's first time teaching an online class, but she was incredibly flexible and constantly open to feedback so she could make the class work for her students. My friends in my study group and I all made a habit of going to her office hours, and Dr. Magruder was always so encouraging and helpful during that time. We all enjoyed getting to know her in those Zoom office hours!

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

The Rocket Engineering Practicum I class I took the spring of my freshman year was by far the most influential class I've taken at UT. As a freshman, I was still trying to figure out what aerospace engineering truly was and if this was the field I wanted to pursue a career in. On the first day of REP, we derived the rocket equation; I remember going to a local coffee shop after class and staying late into the night working on our homework assignment to size a rocket. Through that course, I got to learn about the many different subsystems of rockets and the many engineering considerations that go into their design. That class is also how I got involved with the Texas Rocket Engineering Lab, which has by far been my favorite part of college!

How has being involved in student groups and/or organizations made a difference in your education?

Involvement in student groups has absolutely been the most impactful part of my time at UT so far. I've been a member of the Texas Rocket Engineering Lab (TREL) for the past year and a half, and TREL is what taught me both what aerospace engineering is and that I am capable of doing it. I definitely experienced a lot of imposter syndrome coming into this field, but coming into TREL and finding other students and faculty who wanted to mentor me and teach me how to be an engineer, who didn't expect me to already know it or have things figured out, was exactly what I needed. Being a part of the test engineering team, I've gotten hands-on hardware experience, test stand design and leadership experience, and test crew experience. This all led me to get my first internship at AGILE Space Industries doing test engineering for hypergolic engines in Durango, Colorado, as well as my fall 2021 internship testing BE-4 engines for Blue Origin in Van Horn, Texas. Aside from experience, TREL has given me a family and a home in the aerospace department at UT.

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

I plan to go into test engineering in the commercial space industry. Through TREL and my summer internship at AGILE Space industries, I've come to love being a part of a test engineering team and putting engines through their paces to learn about facets of their design that you only discover through testing. I am excited to do this at Blue Origin this fall and to pursue this career path after I graduate!

Where is your favorite place to study?

My favorite study spot is kind of unusual, but it's actually at my church student center! I go to the University Catholic Center, which is right off campus across from Littlefield Fountain. They have lots of study tables and study rooms, including an old library with the best view of the Tower anywhere around campus. I love to study there because it's a peaceful environment where I get to see a lot of my friends. The UCC has definitely been one of the places I call home at UT, so I try to spend as much time there as I can! I also work well when I get to spend time with other people, so the UCC environment is the perfect study spot for me!

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

I absolutely love getting to adventure outside, so Austin's access to outdoor activities and general vibe fits me perfectly. I was on the UT NCAA Walk On Rowing Team my freshman year and got to explore Lady Bird Lake most days of the week! Now, I like to get outside by going for runs on Shoal Creek Trail, hiking at the Barton Greenbelt or many other parks around Austin, playing frisbee or having picnics at Auditorium Shores, and kayaking on Lady Bird Lake. 

List three things that most people don't know about you.
  • I'd never been to a National Park before this year, but I've been to five over the past six months and one of my life goals is to visit all of them.
  • I ran a half marathon in high school.
  • I've only been out of the country once, and it was to Thailand.