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UA student lands Brooke Owens fellowship and prestigious internship

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Ericka Rios | The Daily Wildcat Lindsey Koelbel a freshman at the University of Arizona received a prestigious fellowship.

Brooke Owens Fellow Lindsey Koelbel, an aerospace engineering major at the University of Arizona, expects to intern at HawkEye 360 this coming summer. 

Koelbel decided to come to the UA because of the College of Engineering, which offers an aerospace-specific degree. Originally planning to leave the state, Koelbel said she feels extremely fortunate with her decision to go to the UA because of its affordability, resources and opportunities. Koelbel says her interest in the STEM field started at a young age with a “knack” for puzzles and problem-solving.

“I applied for this fellowship in November,” Koelbel said in an email. “The first round was to be selected as a semifinalist based on the application alone. I wrote an essay, created a video, a comic book, and gathered 3 letters of recommendation. … Then, when I was selected as a finalist, I was matched with 4 companies.” 

Koelbel explained she was chosen to be a semifinalist, then interviewed by a member of the Brooke Owens selection committee. Koelbel was selected as a finalist, which in turn led to numerous interviews by companies and departments. Ultimately, she was selected for HawkEye 360, taking part in a program dedicated to assisting women and gender-minority students in aerospace.

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Cassie Lee, co-founder of the Brooke Owens Fellowship, said the fellowship is delighted to have Koelbel as a fellow for the 2020 class. 

“We are confident that she will be an asset to her Host Institution, HawkEye360, and make a meaningful contribution to her cohort of extraordinary women in aerospace,” Lee said in an email.

Once she arrived at the UA, Koelbel had the chance to meet Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator for the Osiris-REx mission. Lauretta offered Koelbel a job working for a small satellite technology project. 

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Koelbel saw a flyer hung around the aerospace building during her sophomore year, and upon applying to the Brooke Owens Fellowship she realized the possibilities it had. Before being selected as a finalist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center offered to host Koelbel for the summer through a small satellite project. 

Last summer, Koelbel studied field-programmable gate array design and basic machine learning. During this time, Koelbel felt she didn’t have much engineering experience, yet she still planned to pursue her passion for programming and computer science with the experience she obtained at NASA. 

Koelbel explained the additional steps she took to become a Brooke Owens Fellow. 

“Upon returning for my junior year, I additionally started research with the Turbulence and Flow Control Laboratory under Jesse Little,”  Koelbel said in the email. “I have been able to help with testing in the supersonic wind tunnel and work on some engineering specific projects. With this experience under my belt, I reapplied to the Brooke Owens Fellowship again. After an intense application and interview process, I was selected among 40 outstanding gender minority students as a class of 2020 Brookie. I feel incredibly lucky to stand among these impressive people.” 

Kara Koelbel, Lindsey Koelbel’s mother, expressed her excitement for the fellowship acknowledging her daughter’s hard work and dedication. 

“She has a stellar work ethic as well as a kind and helpful can do approach,” Kara Koelbel said in an email. “We have no doubt this fellowship [is] going to be [an] exciting next step into her career in aerospace.”

Lindsey Koelbel is set to work for HawkEye 360 from May to August of 2020 in the Virginia, District of Columbia area. The fellowship entails a summit meeting during July, in which all fellows across the nation are to meet. Lindsey Koelbel expects to connect with cohorts, professionals and industry members from the aerospace field at the summit. 

Mentors in the aerospace field will pair with Lindsey Koelbel to give advice as she makes progress in her career. Being a part of the fellowship means Lindsey Koelbel can connect with alumni of the program.  

Lindsey Koelbel is still deciding what she would like to go into, with the chance to see the industry of the aerospace field she feels excitement for the fellowship.

“As of now, I would say that I’m interested in satellite technology and development,” Lindsey Koelbel said in an email. “I know that I definitely [want] programming to play a role in my future career, but I would still love to use engineering and design skills in my future job.”


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