Wrapping up Summer 2017

Hello everyone!

I know it’s been quite some time since I blogged. I have been so busy with ending my internship and going back to flight training before classes start in fall! I ended my internship about a week ago and had 2 back-to-back conferences during my last two weeks.

The first conference was the Brooke Owens Fellowship Conference. This conference brought together 36 young women in aviation and aerospace industry in DC- from solving a Grand Challenge with 5 astonishing colleagues and JPL’s head of Mars mission to meeting Pamela Melroy, former NASA astronaut and one of two women to command a space shuttle mission, to performing spoken word poetry in honour of Dawn Brooke Owens, to partying on a pirate boat with the leading aerospace experts.

 

The second one was the ALPA Air Safety Forum held in Washington DC. This forum featured panels and discussions with aviation safety and security experts, recognition of outstanding pilot contributions and more. I was able to  interact with many of the pilots and industry stakeholders that I had met at other meetings during the course of my internship, and I also got to hear from Robert Sumwalt during the Keynote Lunch Speech. I even celebrated my 21st birthday (July 17th), which was the first day of this conference by going out for dinner with some friends!

 

Soon after my internship, I came back home to Bradenton, where my family gave me a surprise birthday cake and gifts! It was great to see them for a few days before starting my flight training.

I am currently working on my private pilot and just finished my first solo last week. I hope you all are having a great summer and are ready to start classes in a few weeks!!!

 

Until next time,

Maryam

Two Cities: Two Weeks

Wow, so a lot of stuff happened in the past two weeks, so let’s get started!

Two weeks ago, I traveled to Montreal and it was an amazing experience. But first, I had to endure a 10 hour train ride.

Everything about the city was perfect. The people were nice, the sights were breathtaking, and I was relatively comfortable traversing the city since I’ve been to New York City so many times.

I was staying with my friend, who generously allowed me to live with her for a whole week. We’ve been pen pals for the past five years, so it was amazing to finally meet her.

The city has some really interesting quirks, like the architectural headache that is Habitat 67 and getting Costo applications in the subway.

I got to try some delicious food as well…because that’s important!

Like all things in the world, my little adventure had to end at some point. I was extremely depressed to leave such an amazing city. But I will return…some day. More photos can be found on my Instagram: billynguyentm

Almost as soon as I got home, I had to get ready to travel once again. Destination: Metlife Stadium.

It took me nine years, but I finally got to see Coldplay live! It was so awesome seeing your childhood idols right there in the flesh. Aside from the concerts Touch-N-Go put on campus, this was my first legitimate concert ever!

These two things were easily the biggest highlights of my summer. I don’t honestly think anything can top them, but with school just three weeks away, I’m open for anything. Until next week!

ISS Research & Design Conference

(From left to right) – Space Tango’s Director of Business and Communication Operations Kirsten Jenkins, CEO Twyman Clements, and myself at our booth.

It’s been a pretty computer-heavy summer with my internship at Space Tango as we prepare for our next batch of customer payloads to be launched on SpaceX CRS-12. From cleaning up the website to controlling social media, I’ve spent the last two months behind screens completing a lot of background work. Needless to say, I was absolutely enthralled when Space Tango invited me to attend this year’s International Space Station Research & Design (ISS R&D) Conference in Washington, D.C.

The ISS R&D Conference is an opportunity for aerospace industry leaders to network among each other, share ideas, and learn from their personal business ventures in commercial space. Through a series of talks, technical sessions, and a huge networking event, I got to learn first-hand what it’s like to be in the industry. Just so you know, they are just as excited and geeked-out about space as any other college student. It’s truly a shared passion.

Not only did I meet several astronauts, like Embry-Riddle Alum Terry Virts, but I also networked with people at Bigelow Aerospace, Leidos, Made In Space, and the Sierra Nevada Corporation to name a few. 

Astronuat Terry Virts and myself – We had a great talk about his experience not only at Worldwide, but at the Daytona campus as well.

Astronaut Kate Rubins shared a detailed story on what it was really like getting to and from the ISS. If you check out the ISS R&D Conference website, you can access a full video on her experience.

Astronaut and Orbital ATK Space Systems Group president Frank Culbertson shared a heart-wrenching story about what it was like to be the only American not on Earth during the 9/11 events. As a military dependent, it was an honor to hear stories from an American hero.

JAXA Astronaut Soichi Noguchi and I not only spoke about JAXA, but I shared a few stories about my time in Japan. Truly an amazing place to visit, but an even better place to live!

It was absolutely exciting to listen to Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow. He shared with the audience why we should remain a leader in space exploration. This was another great talk I urge you to check out at the ISS R&D website!

I even got to meet Dr. Camille Alleyne! We bonded over our Caribbean roots and she even shared some insight on her newest non-profit, The Brightest Stars Foundation. As a woman of color, to say that our conversation was empowering is truly an understatement.

Several students from high schools and universities were also in attendance to share their research. My favorite part of this whole week? A tie between two young women for the Genes in Space Science Contest.

Elizabeth Reizes (14) and Sophia Chen (14) were both named the finalists for the 2017 Genes in Space science contest. Their experiments will be performed aboard the ISS.

The conference was an amazing opportunity and has given me the motivation to get through my last year of my undergraduate degree. It’s a little costly, but this event is well-worth the time for any looking to enter the industry!

⋆ Dani

Life at Rutgers

It’s been very interesting being a summer student at Rutgers. Despite the obvious differences between Riddle and Rutgers, I don’t really feel out of place. I guess the one thing that really stood out was how confusing Rutgers’ parking system was when compared to Riddle’s. In short: We have it so much easier at Riddle.

So I’m currently 3 weeks in out of 6 for my Thermodynamics class at Rutgers. I thought the class would be in a regular classroom. I was wrong.

At about four times the size, Rutgers’ Busch campus is kinda like Embry-Riddle. I will admit some of the infrastructure on campus is a bit more rundown here than at Riddle.

While not possible given Riddle’s geography and environment, I wish there were nature bridges and trails on campus.

While Rutgers’ CoRE building is older than Lehman, I think it looks nicer…

School, Football, and Drones, Oh My!

So apparently my last post was never approved, which isn’t good. And that kinda explains the lack of content on my part, so I do apologize! Unfortunately, not a lot has happened since I made my last post. I have some really awesome travel photos planned for my next post though! I won’t say where I’m going, but I’m definitely excited.

So my short and brief time at Rutgers has come to a close. I passed Thermodynamics and it was easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do this summer. I even brought donuts to our final because it was going to be a long, four hours.

Apparently Rutgers likes MLH.

One of my high school friends, who graduated Monmouth University for a degree in Media and Broadcasting asked if I wanted to help him shot some drone video for a football camp. I didn’t realize the camp was lead by some very well known football players and coaches.

I had a lot of fun and it kinda reminds me of high school. I miss those days.

And here’s my current draft of my drone video that I’m working on.

Summer at ALPA

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re summer is going great! I have approximately two weeks left here at ALPA, and then it’s back to Florida! My internship has been a great experience so far! I got to attend the Legislative Summit that was held from June 19th to June 21st at Capitol Hill. The summit provided ALPA pilots an opportunity to enhance their advocacy and PAC leadership skills through hands-on training. I got to meet a lot of representatives and senators at the summit.

Talking about my future goals to Congressman Laren

         

On June 16th, I visited the TWA 800 aircraft and got to meet Robert Sumwalt again. We couldn’t take photos of the aircraft in order to respect the lives of the passengers that were lost in this aircraft accident.

      

We had a Basic Safety School from June 27th to June 29th. The Basic Safety School was about safety related topics in the aviation industry. Some of them included crew member self-defense initial training, security posturing, crew security resources, ALPA security priorities, legal support for Safety Representatives, SMS and safety risk assessment, CIRP, Accident/Investigation and crash site hazards. Thursday afternoon was devoted to Airport Safety Liaison training, where we discussed ASL Procedure Subject Specific Training and the program benefits.

Monday (July 3rd) and Tuesday (July 4th) were holidays for ALPA due to 4th of July. I spent this four day weekend with Brent in Atlanta, Grenada and then New Hampshire (his hometown) for his 21st birthday. We went to see Lake Winnipesaukee, which is the largest lake in New Hampshire. We also lit fireworks!!!! My favourite part is just playing around with the sparklers!

         

I hope you all had a great relaxing weekend too!

Until next time,

Maryam

#WeareALPA

Hello everyone,

I am currently on my fourth week at ALPA, and it’s been such a rewarding experience so far! I was very fortunate to attend the Pilot Assistance Forum (May 22-24). We had a banquet too, which was held at the Udvar- Hazy Air & Space Museum. I got to talk to some of my biggest role models in the aviation industry about my future career goals and their experiences- Honourable Robert Sumwalt, Acting Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Lori Garver, General Manager of ALPA, who also served as the Deputy Administrator of NASA!

Photo with Lori Garver in front of Space Shuttle Discovery

Photo with Honourable Robert Sumwalt- Acting Chairman of the NTSB

In front of the Air France Concorde at the Udvar- Hazy Air & Space Museum

Brent (my boyfriend) spent Memorial Day weekend with me. We drove to D.C., and then rented out bicycles since parking can be super hectic! We visited many memorials there, and also visited the National Archives Museum. As an international kid, it was pretty cool seeing all the actual documents (Bill of Rights, Constitution, etc.). We also visited the Udvar- Hazy Air & Space Museum (which was my second time then). It was pretty cool since his favourite aircraft is Lockheed SR- 71 aka “Blackbird”.

In front of the SR- 71

Brent and I in front of Discovery

Posing with Brent near the Franklin Roosevelt statue

 

One of my meetings last week was at Capitol Hill. It was pretty interesting. We talked with the House Aviation Subcommittee about reauthorizing and making some changes to the existing bill. I also had a great opportunity to attend a meeting with GoogleX this week to talk about their plans of incorporating UAS technology in their industry.

 

Meeting at Capitol Hill

 

Meeting at Google office in D.C.

 

I have so many more events coming up, and I’m definitely excited to be with ALPA for the rest of the summer. In addition to my internship at ALPA, I am currently doing an independent study course with Riddle. My first exam was on Tuesday, and I did great!!!

I hope you all are having a great and relaxing summer!

Until next time,

Maryam

#BlackGirlMagic in STEM

We come to college to learn from books, but the biggest lessons we gain are from the people we cross paths with. As a woman of color at a predominantly white institution (and predominantly male), it can be challenging to find confidence in yourself. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many inspirational women of all ages and even more so, women of color that seek out not only to advance themselves, but the people around them as well.

For this post I will be highlighting one particular woman that has gone above and beyond at Embry-Riddle. Meet Naia!

Naia is a junior in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Applied Mathematics. She is actively involved in National Society of Black Engineers, McNair Scholars, Kappa Mu Epsilon, Bible Study, and Dreams Soar Inc. With all of this on her plate, Naia is also the founder of Embry-Riddle Dancing Eagles. Naia is a Pathways intern at NASA Glenn Research Center working on a High Power Density CubeSat project. Although she began her Pathways internship last September, she is currently on her second cycle of the program. 

Astronaut and NASA Glenn Research Center Director, Janet Kavandi (left) and student Naia (right) being sworn in for her first day as a Pathways intern.

I’ve watched Naia from the moment she arrived thrive among her peers as an individual, but even the most successful people have fears about fitting in! She was excited to answer a few questions in hopes of relating to other women of color pursuing, or currently in STEM fields.

“As a woman of color on campus, I feel the biggest challenge I face is Atychiphobia – the fear of being wrong. Stereotypes of women of color in society are often negative.”

As a ‘super-minority,’ women of color often feel intimidated in their academic space. We are subjected to expectations on how we act, dress, and behave. These false expectations can place a lot of pressure on women of color.

“I never want to feel like an undeserved token student or the stereotypical uneducated black female,” Naia added.

Like Naia, we’ve faced this fear of our mistakes overpowering our academic strength. Like Naia, however, I have learned to overcome this. I, myself, was fortunate enough to meet Naia, and many women like her within the past few years, who strives beyond false expectations and imaginary boundaries and women that make their own connections and find motivation to persevere.

Organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals exist on our campus to allow minorities such as ourselves to flourish. Such organizations exist for other minority groups as well such as the Society for Hispanic Engineers. All of these clubs, and hundreds more are open to everyone.

Naia’s advice? “Remember to build a network of like-minded, motivated and positive individuals.”

Always remember your goal. How do you define success? Finding people that define success the same way you do will allow you to excel. Women of color have an opportunity to flourish academically and socially alongside women like Naia at Embry-Riddle. The university has an abundance of student organizations that can allow you to find the connections you need to persevere. We may have to work twice as hard for recognition, but we do it together.

We met Ms. Johnson at an annual career fair representing NASA and took it upon ourselves to network! We were then invited for a private tour of Kennedy Space Center. Don’t be afraid to make your own opportunities!(From left to right – Grace Johnson, Education and Youth Projects, Moriah Graham from Aeronautical Science, Danielle Rosales from Communication, and now alumna Cheyenne Nurse with a B.S. in Spaceflight Operations (formerly Commercial Space Operations)

Never forget that we’re more than a statistic, we’re breaking the glass ceiling. We’re pushing the boundaries for another generation. Naia and I encourage women of color to look past fears, concerns and intimidation to attend schools like Riddle to embrace who you are while achieving your dream. There are no limits.

⋆ Dani

Drone Antics

So the past couple of weeks I’ve been flying my Mavic Pro around my hometown and surrounding area. My ultimate goal is capture enough footage to make a short video showcasing all the cool things I did this summer. For now, a lot of videos I have now are place holders for what’s to come.

I primarily use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit my videos and originally used to use Sony Vegas. It was hard adjusting from Vegas since I’ve used it for over six years, but now I’m super comfortable with Premiere and even After Effects. Currently I’m reading up on color grading and color correction which is something I’ve been meaning to get better at.

If anyone’s interested, the draft of the video can be found here!

Memorial Day Weekend in Georgia

This past Memorial Day weekend, my boyfriend and his family invited me to see a a small piece of Georgia – Conyers. Half an hour away from Atlanta and my boyfriend’s hometown, Conyers became more than just a weekend getaway from Daytona.

With only 3-hour halves, the drive wasn’t bad for him and me at all. Malik and I took the time to talk and share stories about how we got to Riddle and about our hometowns playing a role in our personal goals. Needless to say, I was eager to see somewhere new and where he grew up.

Malik and I with his car Diana (Yes, she is named after Wonder Woman).

The next day, Malik introduced me to a faculty member at Rockdale Career Academy (RCA). RCA is an opportunity for students of the surrounding area to excel in concentrated programs and complete dual enrollment for college courses. Malik in particular took well over five dual enrollment courses that counted for college credit. It was at RCA that he truly put his dream of becoming an Aerospace Engineer into action. Malik also introduced me to his mentor, Rass.

Rass is the type of person you could talk to about life and goals. He shared with me his garden where he grows varying fruits, vegetables, and herbs. If you’re from the Caribbean you are more likely to have an understanding for the term ‘old head.’ It merely means someone older in age with traditional values that stem from Caribbean ties or roots. In this case, Rass is the type of old head that shares his wisdom in hopes of youth achieving their dreams. He reminded Malik and I that success is not based on materialistic matter, but accomplishing our goals. This was only our first day in Conyers and I was being reminded to appreciate opportunity. We ended the night with something more aligned with tradition for Malik and me by attending the 2017 Atlanta J’ouvert. Its celebratory roots date back to slavery. Today, j’ouverts vary throughout different islands and countries of the Caribbean with the same goal – have fun and embrace the culture. There was music, food, and flags (never attend a j’ouvert without your flag).

There were we;;-over 600 people in attendance including famous Caribbean musicians and artists. The flag you see flying on the far left is of Trinidad and Tobago.

Exhausted from the j’ouvert, Malik and I made Saturday a lazy day. We stayed in and played Uno with his brother and sister. His mom even woke up early just to make us stewed oxtails, macaroni pie, and vegetable rice – all foods from the Caribbean that he and I don’t have often in college.

On our last day, Malik took me to the Golf Course where he worked and trained throughout high school. Keep in mind, I have NEVER golfed before. I know ‘zero’ things about golf! He insisted that I give something new a try. I took a swing at it. I took a very, very horrible swing. The ball didn’t move at all and I’m sad to say that I only sent a good chunk of the Earth about 10 feet away (pretty good distance in my opinion). “You’re not gonna hurt the Earth,” Malik reassured me. “Try again.” So I did try again, and again, and again. Eventually I started to get the ball; some landed near and others far. I’d like to think that I’m on way to being a pro, but Malik protests. I’m determined to try it again.

Malik taking a swing after almost a year. He was an all-star in golf and helped lead his team to a championship.

Malik ended the day with a surprise date at a drive-in movie theater. I love going to the movies, and there’s just something about a drive-in theater that fascinates me. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tells No Tales was a 10/10. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, stick around for the post-credits scene.

All-in-all, it was a memorable weekend. I’m happy Malik could share his hometown with me and even happier that we accomplished so much in a few short days. The road-trip was easy for us. We’re hoping to enjoy a few more long weekends throughout the summer and in between classes and work. The Florida Keys, perhaps? I’ll have to ask him what he thinks!

⋆ Dani