Aerospace Careers Take Flight as Patti Grace Smith Fellowship Recipients are Selected

Inaugural class of PGS Fellows 2021

Forty three young people have been awarded Patti Grace Smith Fellowships, a program designed to enable Black undergraduate students to get the opportunity to work in the aerospace industry.

The 43 fellows come from a range of backgrounds but all have a passion for working in aeronautics. The inaugural fellowship provides work experience at the nation’s top aerospace firms.

Each undergraduate is enrolled in the first or second year of a bachelor’s degree program or in associate’s degree program. They have earned their place in the Class of 2021 following a three-round selection process, in which each candidate was thoroughly vetted by a group of aerospace industry professionals, rising star early career employees, and corporate employers.

Patti Grace Smith - Courtesy
Patti Grace Smith – Courtesy

“The Patti Grace Smith Fellowship exists to serve extraordinarily talented students who possess everything that is needed to thrive in aerospace, but who come from a community where talent has long been overlooked by our industry,” said Col. B. Alvin Drew, Jr., (USAF, Ret.), a two-time Space Shuttle astronaut and a co-founder of the Fellowship. “These new Patti Grace Smith Fellows inspire us with their drive, their intellect, their work ethic, and their deep commitment to advancing the state of the aerospace industry – not only in terms of our science and engineering, but also in terms of how we cultivate and honor talent in our workforce.”

The fellowship is named after Patti Grace Smith, who through her leadership at the FAA and in her government career, oversaw the development of rules for human spaceflight, as mandated by US Congress through the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004.  During her tenure at the FAA, the administration became the recognized global leader in private human spaceflight and space regulation, creating a model that is now being followed in nations around the world.  Patti also assembled partnerships between the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation and other key stakeholders in government, working with the US Air Force on common launch safety standards, and coordinating with the other parts of the FAA to address the impact of space flight on the National Airspace System.

Kyle Kingsberry PGS Fellow 2021

“Obtaining a spot in this fellowship program will enable me to start building internship experience while still early in my college career, while also connecting me with mentors who are industry professionals to guide me along the way,” said Kyle Kingsberry of Kensington, Maryland, an undergrad at Embry Riddle in Daytona Beach, Fla. “This will enhance my career by making sure that by the time I graduate from college I am prepared for a job in the aerospace field.”

Patti Grace Smith Fellows each earn a challenging internship at one of the nation’s leading aerospace firms, a living wage, two hand-picked personal mentors, and a cash grant of approximately $2,000 to go towards professional or school expenses.

The Patti Grace Smith Fellowship was created in 2020 to combat the longstanding and well-quantified under-representation of Black and African-American employees in the US aerospace workforce. Though the aerospace industry has made important strides since the days when African-Americans were legally barred from studying in many universities and holding many positions in the aerospace workforce, there is still a great deal of progress to be made.

While African-Americans make up 13.4 percent of the US population and 15.3 percent of American undergraduate and graduate students, a recent study conducted by Aviation Week Network found that only 6 percent of US Aerospace and Defense workers and only 3 percent of aerospace executives are Black.

The mission of the fellowship is to even the playing field in hiring at aerospace companies, providing opportunities for diverse applicants and across all demographics. The fellowship enables the students to work with role models and professional mentors. In addressing the challenges in hiring, the fellowship works to improve career prospects for those who dream of a career in aerospace.

PGS Fellows 3-1-21
PGS Fellows 3-1-21

The Patti Grace Smith Fellowship Class of 2021:

• Amanial Abraham. Originally from Phoenix, AZ, Mr. Abraham is now a first-year student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Mr. Abraham will intern as an Engineer at Venturi Astrolab.

• Alina Ampeh. Originally from Fairfax, VA, Ms. Ampeh is now a first-year student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign studying Electrical Engineering. Ms. Ampeh will intern as an Engineer at Sierra Nevada Corporation.

• Jesudunsin Awodele. Originally from Dacula, GA, Mr. Awodele is now a second-year student at the Georgia Institute of Technology studying Aerospace Engineering. Mr. Awodele will intern as a Systems Engineer at Boeing.

• Alexandria Baca. Originally from Las Vegas, NV, Ms. Baca is now a first-year student at the University of Central Florida studying Aerospace Engineering. Ms. Baca will intern as an Engineer at Virgin Galactic.

• Loubensky Baine. Originally from Miami, FL, Mr. Baine is now a second-year student at the University of Central Florida studying Aerospace Engineering. Mr. Baine will intern as an Aerospace & Systems Engineer at BlackSky.

• Kojo Bekoe-Sakyi. Originally from Turlock, CA, Mr. Bekoe-Sakyi is now a second-year student at the Georgia Institute of Technology studying Aerospace Engineering. Mr. Bekoe-Sakyi will intern as an Engineer at Airbus U.S. Space & Defense.

• Quintarius Bell. Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mr. Bell is now a second-year student at the University of Miami studying Mechanical Engineering. Mr. Bell will intern as an Engineer at Relativity Space.

• Isaac Broussard. Originally from Lake Charles, LA, Mr. Broussard is now a first-year student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology interested in studying Aerospace Engineering and Applied Mathematics. Mr. Broussard will intern as an Engineer at Axiom Space.

• Alexis Burris. Originally from Felton, DE, Ms. Burris is now a second-year student at The University of Maryland-College Park studying Aerospace Engineering. Ms. Burris will intern as a Systems Engineer at Northrop Grumman

• Megan Bynoe. Originally from Point Pleasant, NJ, Ms. Bynoe is a first-year student at Rutgers University – New Brunswick studying Materials Science and Engineering. Ms. Bynoe will intern as a Materials Engineer at Relativity Space.

• Lauren Carethers. Originally from Ann Arbor, MI, Ms. Carethers is now a second-year student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying Aerospace Engineering with a focus in energy. Ms. Carethers will intern as an investment team member at Space Capital.

• Elias Hailu Daniel. Originally from Silver Spring, MD, Mr. Daniel is now a second-year student at the University of Maryland – College Park studying Aerospace Engineering. Mr. Daniel will intern as a Hardware Development Engineer at ABL Space Systems.

• Jeremiah Davis. Originally from Birmingham, AL. Mr. Davis is currently a first-year student at Calhoun Community College studying Aerospace Welding and Technology. Mr. Davis will intern as an Engine Development Engineer at SpaceX.

• Joshua Kennedy Davis. Originally from Dallas, TX, Mr. Davis is now a first-year student at the University of Texas at Austin studying Aerospace Engineering and Government. Mr. Davis will intern as an Engineer at Airbus U.S. Space & Defense.

• Kailen De Saussure. Originally from Columbus, GA, Mr. De Saussure is now a second-year student at the Georgia Institute of Technology studying Aerospace Engineering. Mr. De Saussure will intern as a Systems Engineer at General Dynamics Mission Systems.

• Taliyah Emory-Muhammad. Originally from Silver Spring, MD, Ms. Emory-Muhammad is now a second-year student at the University of Southern California studying Astronautical Engineering. Ms. Emory-Muhammad will intern as an Engineer at Masten Space Systems.

• Mya Guillaume. Originally from East Stroudsburg, PA, Ms. Guillaume is now a second-year student at The Pennsylvania State University studying Aerospace Engineering. Ms. Guillaume will intern as an Engineer at Maxar Technologies.

• Amanda Gutiérrez-Nieves. Originally from San Germán, PR, Ms. Gutiérrez-Nieves is now a first-year student at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez studying Mechanical Engineering. Ms. Gutiérrez-Nieves will intern as a Hardware Engineer at ABL Space Systems.

• Noah Herbert. Originally from Sterling, VA, Mr. Herbert is now a second-year student at Purdue University studying Mechanical Engineering. Mr. Herbert will intern as an Engineer at Ball Aerospace.

• Niya Hope-Glenn. Originally from Schenectady, NY. Ms. Hope-Glenn is now a first-year student at Howard University studying Chemical Engineering. Ms. Hope-Glenn will intern as an Engineer at First Mode.

• Junia Janvier. Originally from Providence, RI, Ms. Janvier is now a second-year student at Boston University studying Computer Science. Ms. Janvier will intern as a Software Engineer at The Aerospace Corporation.

• Megan Jordan. Originally from Mobile, AL, Ms. Jordan is now a second-year student at The University of Alabama in Huntsville studying Aerospace Engineering. Ms. Jordan will intern as a Structures Engineer at Hermeus Corporation.

• Hermon Kaysha. Originally from Ethiopia by way of Peabody, MA, Mr. Kaysha is now a first-year student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying Computer Science. Mr. Kaysha will intern as an Engineer at First Mode.

• Andre Ketter. Originally from McKinney, TX, Mr. Ketter is now a first-year student at Southern Methodist University studying Biological Sciences. Mr. Ketter will intern as an Analyst at Bryce Space and Technology.

• Nehemiah Key. Originally from Flossmoor, IL, Mr. Key is now a second-year student at The Ohio State University studying Aerospace Engineering. Mr. Key will intern as a Systems Engineer at L3 Harris Technologies.

• Kyle Kingsberry. Originally from Kensington, MD, Mr. Kingsberry is now a first-year student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University studying Aerospace Engineering. Mr. Kingsberry will intern as an Engineer at Blue Origin.

• Kirk “KJ” McLean Jr. Originally from Upper Marlboro, MD, Mr. McLean is now a second-year student at the University of Maryland – College Park studying Aerospace Engineering. Mr. McLean will intern as an Engineer at L3Harris Technologies.

• Zion Moss. Originally from Miami, FL, Mr. Moss is currently a second-year student at Purdue University studying Aerospace Engineering. Mr. Moss will intern as an Engineer at SpaceX.

• Donovan N’Gum. Originally from Charlotte, NC, Mr. N’Gum is now a first-year student at North Carolina State University studying Aerospace Engineering. Mr. N’Gum will intern as an Engineer at Virgin Orbit.

• Myles Noel. Originally from Norfolk, VA, Mr. Noel is now a first-year student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying Chemistry. Mr. Noel will intern as a Materials Engineer at Relativity Space.

• Ciarra Ortiz. Originally from Wingdale, NY, Ms. Ortiz is now a second-year student at the Georgia Institute of Technology studying Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Aerospace Engineering. Ms. Ortiz will intern as an Engineer at the MIT Space Exploration Initiative Lab.

• Isaac Owen. Originally from Dublin, CA, Mr. Owen is now a first-year student at Princeton University studying Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Mr. Owen will intern as a Testing Engineer at Joby Aviation.

• Jovanna Patterson. Originally from Douglasville, GA, Ms. Patterson is now a first-year student at Georgia Institute of Technology studying Mechanical Engineering. Ms. Patterson will intern as an Engineer at Venturi Astrolab.

• Anaelle Roc. Originally from Kings Park, NY, Ms. Roc is now a first-year student at Pomona College studying Astrophysics and Politics. Ms. Roc will intern as an Engineer at Relativity Space.

• Bria Romero. Originally from Gurnee, IL, Ms. Romero is now a second-year student at Rice University studying Mechanical Engineering. Ms. Romero will intern as an Engineer at United Launch Alliance.

• Nyima Sanneh. Originally from Missouri City, TX, Ms. Sanneh is now a first-year student at Texas A&M University studying Aerospace Engineering. Ms. Sanneh will intern as an Engineer at Hawkeye 360.

• Chelsea Slater. Originally from Tampa, FL, Ms. Slater is now a first-year at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University studying Engineering as well as a 3L at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Ms. Slater will intern as an Analyst at the Aerospace Industries Association.

• Melford Spiff-Rufus. Originally from Richmond, TX, Mr. Spiff-Rufus is now a first-year student at Princeton University studying Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Mr. Spiff-Rufus will intern as an Avionics Engineer at SpaceX.

• Jenesis Tucker. Originally from San Antonio, TX, Ms. Tucker is now a second-year student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University studying Aeronautics. Ms. Tucker will intern as a Flight Test Engineer at Joby Aviation.

• Shalayah-Naomi Webb. Originally from San Diego, CA. Ms. Webb is a third-year student at San Diego City College with plans to transfer to a four-year university to study Aerospace Engineering. Ms. Webb will intern as an Engineer at Draper Laboratory.

• Brandon Wells. Originally from San Diego, CA. Mr. Wells is now a first-year student at San Diego State University studying Mechanical Engineering. Mr. Wells will intern as an Engineer at SpaceX.

• Paden Wright. Originally from Texarkana, TX, Mr. Wright is now a first-year student at Tuskegee University studying Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. Mr. Wright will intern as an Engineer at Maxar Technologies.

• Simone Williams. Originally from Flossmoor, IL, Ms. Williams is currently a rising third-year student at Yale University studying Astrophysics. Ms. Williams will intern as a Systems Engineer at Ball Aerospace.