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The Brooke Owens Fellowship, a nationally-acclaimed nonprofit program recognizing exceptional undergraduate women and gender minorities with space and aviation internships, senior mentorship, and a lifelong professional network, has announced its Class of 2023 Brooke Owens Fellows.
Douglas native Samina Patel, a junior at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, has been named one of 47 Brooke Owens Fellows. She is pursuing a major in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in International Affairs.
Growing up, Samina spent endless nights gazing at the stars and planets in the sky. Her passion for engineering was sparked in high school when she joined the VEX Robotics team and advanced to the World Championships. She also discovered her passion for service and leadership through her term as the Georgia Technology Student Association State Secretary during her senior year of high school.
With the looming threat of climate change, Samina began to question how the aerospace industry could continue exploring the depths of the universe while also focusing on improving sustainability and reducing environmental impact on Earth. In her classes at Georgia Tech, she delved into research projects about sustainable aviation fuels and space debris mitigation. In her sophomore year, Samina was a Student Researcher for the Martian Advanced Renewable Systems Energy Team where she assisted in designing an experiment that tested the efficiency of photovoltaic balloons in solar energy harvesting for extreme Martian environments.
In 2022, Samina was awarded the competitive Federal Jackets Fellowship, which provided her the opportunity to secure a government internship in Washington, DC. Because the aerospace industry is greatly dependent on government regulation, it was Samina’s objective to utilize her knowledge in both engineering and international affairs to develop an interdisciplinary understanding on how to pursue a sustainable and equitable future in aerospace. After her internship on Capitol Hill with U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Samina realized the importance of space policy in the creation of aerospace vehicles and in the advancement of future space missions. It became her objective to pursue a career in the intersection of aerospace engineering and policy.
At Georgia Tech, Samina is actively involved in the Society of Women Engineers, where she served as Social Chair her sophomore year. She is also passionate in promoting STEM education in the Atlanta community, whether it is through Aerospace Outreach or the Astronomy Club. In her free time, Samina loves to read fantasy and science fiction novels, write poetry, play with her cats, and listen to Taylor Swift.
As a Brooke Owens Fellow, Samina is beyond thrilled to spend her summer working on the StarLab project at Voyager Space in Denver.
The Class of 2023 marks the seventh class of “Brookie” Fellows. The 47 Fellows were selected through a fair and extremely competitive application process involving written and creative submissions, interviews with the Fellowship’s leadership team and its close network, and interviews with leading aerospace employers from across multiple sectors in the US aerospace industry. Almost 1,000 promising and talented students applied worldwide, coming from Ivy League universities, major research universities, historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s), liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and major international universities. The Fellows were selected based on their incredible talent, desire to pursue a career in aerospace, stand-out creative abilities, record of leadership and most importantly commitment to their communities.
The Brooke Owens Fellows will each be matched to an executive-level mentor in the aerospace industry who will support and work with the Fellows to help launch their careers. This summer, the Fellows will start their internships and come together for the annual Brooke Owens Summit in Washington, DC. The Class of 2023 will also become part of the network of 249 Brookie alumni spanning all aspects of space and aviation including engineering, scientific research, policy, journalism, and entrepreneurship.
The Brooke Owens Fellowship was founded in 2016 to honor the memory of beloved industry pioneer and accomplished pilot D. Brooke Owens, who passed away in June 2016 at the age of 35, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. The program was co-founded by Lori Garver, the former Deputy Administrator of NASA; Cassie Lee, CEO of Sound Future; and William Pomerantz, the Vice President for Special Projects at Virgin Orbit. The Brooke Owens Fellowship celebrates its ongoing mission and legacy of disrupting the historical gender imbalance in the aerospace industry by continuing its mission to provide opportunities and access to talented young professionals from women and gender minorities from all backgrounds.
Today, the Brooke Owens Fellowship is led by the 5-person Executive Team that includes Caroline Juang, a Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia University in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences; Emily Calandrelli, a science communicator and host of Netflix’s Emily’s Wonder Lab; Kayla Watson, a System Reliability Engineer at Amazon Prime Air; Lori Garver, co- founder of the Brooke Owens Fellowship and former Deputy Administrator of NASA; and Will Pomerantz, co-founder of the Brooke Owens Fellowship and Vice President of Special Projects at Virgin Orbit. Earlier this month, Diana Trujillo, Former Mars Perseverance Mission Lead at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, transitioned off the team after two years of service, and Garver was welcomed back into the day-to-day activities of the Executive Team. During this transition, both Trujillo and Garver were active members in selecting the newly-announced class of 2023 Brookies.
On behalf of the Executive Team, Garver says, “We are overjoyed to welcome our seventh class of ‘Brookies’, to the Fellowship, which is now providing nearly 300 women and gender minorities access to the ever more important aerospace industry. The program is expanding the diversity of the workforce in the sector and the experience and knowledge gained by these talented individuals will help it deliver a better future for humanity.”
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