The Next Generation of Commercial Spaceflight Leaders

The Next Generation of Commercial Spaceflight Leaders

For the 2021 Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship class, the program received its largest response yet, with applications from over 100 colleges. Sarah Chu and Madeline Bowne are among the 30 students selected for the 2021 Class of the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program. Now in its fourth year, the Fellowship matches students with executive-level mentorships, an internship at a top aerospace company, and networking opportunities in commercial spaceflight. 

Sarah Chu – First-Year Aerospace Engineering Master’s Student

Sarah Chu, aerospace engineering master's student
Sarah Chu

Chu is a first-year aerospace engineering master’s student who will spend her summer interning with Analytical Space, a startup company based in Boston that is working on creating a network of orbit satellites to improve satellite communication and network capabilities. Chu will begin her 10-week internship remotely in Atlanta to get acquainted with the technology and training needed for her new role and then will complete the rest of her internship from her home in Seattle. 

“When I first heard that I was matched with Analytical Space, I was impressed with their work and really excited to be a part of their mission to help people,” said Chu. 

Chu has paired with Suzi McBride, COO of Iridium a global communications company aimed to improve data connectivity through satellite constellations. 

“I’m really excited about the mentorship aspect of the Fellowship because I’m somewhat new to the space side of the industry, so having someone who can help answer my questions and guide me along my path is really important to me,” said Chu. 

Chu is currently conducting research in the Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL) under the guidance of Professor Dimitri Mavris. Her research includes working with Rolls-Royce on a Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) approach to develop different processes for their digital manufacturing and production system. 

“We’re trying to tie all these different tools together - transfer data and models - so it’s something that's really high interest in the industry right now,” Said Chu. “It’s been really interesting to get my foot in the door and see where I can contribute with real-world problems and work alongside innovative companies.” 

Before starting her master’s at Georgia Tech, Chu earned her bachelor’s degree from Smith College and worked as a systems engineer at Boeing in their product development department, where she worked alongside several Tech alumni. 

“A lot of my co-workers went to Tech for their undergrad, so I learned a lot about their experiences and that helped me decide to come to Tech,” explained Chu. “I thought this could be a really good place for me to grow and learn as much as I can through my classes and the wealth of knowledge the professors have.”

Madeline Bowne – First-Year Aerospace Engineering Master’s Student 

Madeline Bowne
Madeline Bowne

Chu’s fellow Aerospace Systems Design Lab lab mate, Madeline Bowne will spend her summer interning with Made in Space, a space infrastructure manufacturing company where she will be working with a team on robotics and manufacturing integration. The New Jersey native was surprised to find out her executive-level mentor was someone she had recently learned about through reading, Think Like a Rocket Scientist

“I was extremely excited to find out I had paired with Natalya Bailey,” said Bowne. “She does a lot of really innovative work with electric propulsion and finding really smart and resourceful ways of utilizing electric propulsion to propel small satellites. To read her name in a book one week and then a few weeks later find out she’s my mentor was very exciting to say the least.” 

Bailey is the CTO and co-founder of Accion Systems, a satellite propulsion systems company located in Boston. Bowne is a graduate research assistant working on reducing jet noise for supersonic commercial vehicles and improving satellite constellations under the direction of Professor Dimitri Mavris

“One of the things I’ve really appreciated about Aerospace Systems Design Lab is learning problem-solving strategies that can be applied to a wide range of problems,” explained Bowne. “It’s really opened up my mind to understand how to evaluate technology, which is crucial for a career within the space industry because there is so much that needs to happen in order to reach these ambitious goals that NASA is setting out.” 

The Rutgers alumnus spent four years on the Rutgers Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) team building formula-style racecars, serving as vice president and the design and testing lead. 

Prior to her time at Tech she interned twice at Northrop Grumman with launch vehicles and propulsion systems, including working on the Antares rocket, as well as interning with Lockheed Martin working on combat systems. 

Both Fellows there are excited to meet their class of 2021 Fellows during the 2021 Summit, where they will learn about space start-ups, network with top industry leaders, and develop entrepreneurial skills.

The Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program mirrors its sister programs - the Brooke Owens Fellowship and Patti Grace Smith Fellowship - with an expanded applicant pool to include master’s students.  The Program was created in memory of Matthew Isakowitz (1987–2017)—an engineer, entrepreneur and extraordinary individual whose passion for commercial space exploration led to great strides in the industry and inspired all who knew him.

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Read about the AE School’s 2020 Class, 2019 Class, 2018 Class recipients. 

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Kelsey Gulledge