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Skye Mceowen

Level: Ph.D.

Skye Mceowen

How did you become interested in engineering and of UW A&A in particular? Tell us more about your pathways leading you here. 

Aerospace has always been my passion and a driving force of my life. This passion was fueled at Raisbeck Aviation High School — a college-prep STEM school focused in aerospace. I began interning in aerospace as a sophomore there, and have completed eight internships so far — most recently at SpaceX and Blue Origin. My dream is to contribute to manned missions to Mars as a Guidance, Navigation and Controls (GNC) Engineer. This goal led me to pursue my Ph.D. in A&A with a focus in Controls. I was drawn here by the amazing faculty and research laboratories that I believe create a uniquely rich educational environment for collaborative learning. UW A&A not only has rigorous academics and ample resources, but also top-notch research teams and mentors.

Tell us about your interesting internships and research.

Through my research, I aim to develop new algorithms that enable more efficient autonomous operations for aircraft, rockets and spacecraft. I am currently responsible for developing and conducting research demonstrations in the Autonomous Controls Lab with our aerial drone fleet and rover swarm. Working in the lab allows me to combine my passion for hardware and software implementation alongside optimal guidance and robust controls research.

I spent each of my internships exploring a different field before deciding to specialize in GNC. At SpaceX, I produced spaceflight and test hardware for the Crew Dragon. Most recently, I conducted avionics research and stability analysis for an engine controller at Blue Origin. This summer, I will be returning to SpaceX on their GNC team. I am thrilled for the opportunity to get exposure to my dream field!

What do you enjoy most about A&A?

One of the things I enjoy most about A&A is the opportunity to work with the amazing faculty and graduate students. Being exposed to so many brilliant people and ideas facilitates learning and encourages us to give our best every day!

What advice do you have for prospective students?

I would encourage prospective students to always explore their interests and pursue their passions. It’s important not to let imposter syndrome creep in. Sometimes things take longer than planned, but persistence wins out in the end!