My four years at the University of Wisconsin - Madison were a great experience and I had many opportunities to develop my engineering skill set. Highlighted here are my academic studies, research for Prof. Sanders, and experience with the Zero Gravity team.
I graduated in December of 2010 with a B.S. in Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics and a Computer Science minor. EMA is similar to Aerospace and Mechanical engineering but emphasizes the underlying physical principles over applied results. (So a mechanical engineer may be taught the applications and limitations of an internal combustion engine while an engineering mechanics receives less-specialized knowledge. An EM may be less familiar with current industry practices but can more easily design an analyze new systems for which industry has not yet embraced.) The Astronautics specification provides additional coursework in dynamics and orbital- and fluid-mechanics.
I greatly enjoy engineering and it is the myriad challenges in designing space-based systems that hold my interest. My experiences with Prof. Sanders and the ZeroG team motivated my pursuit of graduate engineering studies and formed my desire for a career in engineering research. I am cautiously optimistic on the future of NASA and commercial space endeavours, and I do believe that we can chart an economically sustainable path beyond Earth orbit. Our future is in space; I hope to enable a small part of our continued exploration.