photo of Lauren Rodriguez

Lauren Rodriguez

Major

Aerospace Engineering

Technical Area

Space Flight

Hometown

McAllen, TX

What made you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree?

The summer before senior year, I participated in a high school internship program with the Texas Space Grant Consortium. I already knew I wanted to major in engineering. I liked the challenge and the endless room for innovation. I just wasn't sure what type. My team's project was focused on creating a concept design for a CubeSat and we were mentored by Professor Emeritus Dr. Wallace Fowler. Dr. Fowler did a great job of taking time each day to let us ask questions about careers and educations, and in talking with him and my team I found that an aerospace degree was likely my best fit major. By the end of that program, I had found enough specific interest in aerospace engineering and anything that flies that I couldn't envision myself anywhere else.

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

Definitely getting to meet so many passionate people and work with them on teams where we apply the concepts that we've learned in class to real engineering challenges. 

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

My most influential professor has been Sandy Barker. She teaches several lab classes, Rocket Engineering Practicum I and II, and is the faculty lead of TREL. I work with her very closely in TREL and have taken both Rocket Engineering Practicuum courses. I appreciate the way Sandy puts diversity and inclusion at the forefront of everything she does, challenges me to be a better student, engineer and leader, and has introduced me to tools in aerospace that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. 

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

COE311 with Dr. Ann Chen was the first programming class I ever took. Dr. Chen broke down the material in such a way that learning how to code in C++ and MATLAB was an easy process. I've used MATLAB in several of my classes since, and C++ came in handy during my summer internship. 

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

The Texas Rocket Engineering Lab has provided the most incredible opportunity to work on a real-world project through several stages and learn fundamental engineering concepts in a hands-on way, which is how I learn best. Not only have I made some of my best friends (with the most incredibly brilliant and passionate people I've ever met) through TREL, I find myself learning something new every single day. I'm also president of our Women in Aerospace and Leadership Development (WIALD). WIALD helped me to find a community of women in the aerospace department my freshman year, made me feel much more comfortable in my classes, and helped me learn to start navigating internships.

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

I hope to use my degree to pursue a career in test engineering. Right now, I aim to be a part of a new space company, but have also found interest in commercial plane testing for environmentally focused improvements and hypersonics that I'd love to explore.

Where is your favorite place to study?

I love studying in the TREL room or the 1st floor tables in the EER. 

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

Some of my favorite things about Austin are all of the coffee shops and that there are some really pretty hikes and state parks not too far away! You can definitely get as much of a city or outdoorsy lifestyle as you want. 

List three things that most people don't know about you.
  • I grew up riding horses and still love it!

  • I was a competitive swimmer for 8 years and try to keep up with it in the lap pool at Gregory Gym from time to time.

  • I lived in Seattle over the summer (and still haven't readjusted to Texas heat).