“I think the biggest thing a person needs to be successful at anything is buy-in. The ability to take ownership of a project and dedicate all that you can to it is what makes your work in a project successful.” – Caroline Lassiter, Student in Computer Systems Engineering
Name: Caroline Lassiter
Hometown: Loganville, Ga
Year: 5th year; graduating this May 2023
Program of study: BS CSE
Why did you choose UGA?
I wanted to go to Georgia Tech. I came to UGA with the intention of transferring, but Dr.Beyette insisted I visit the UGA SSRL. I did and was sure that was going to be my way into the aerospace industry. The opportunity to do space-related research as an undergraduate and make a large impact in a blossoming engineering school was what convinced me that I was already where I needed to be.
When did you become interested in engineering?
I have always enjoyed hands-on applications and bought my friend a space book during my senior year of high school. I never considered it as a viable option but thought I would pursue an Aerospace Engineering degree. After deciding to stay at UGA, I determined that a degree in CSEE would equip my “engineering toolbox” with computer science “tools” for a future career as an AE.
Are you involved in any student clubs or organizations, and what are your experiences with this?
I am the Chief Engineer and previously was both CE and the Program Manager of MEMESat-1 out of the UGA Small Satellite Research Laboratory. I have learned so much after being thrust into the role, and it was certainly a trial-and-error process. Like space, leading an undergraduate, to-be-spacefaring mission is hard, but I have always been very invested in MEMESat-1 and knew that failure was not an option. To anyone interested in space, the UGA SSRL is an amazing learning experience, with real-world applications of class (and out-of-class) concepts. In my opinion, there is no better opportunity at UGA to prepare you for a job in the space industry.
Have you learned anything new about yourself during your time at UGA?
I enjoy managerial tasks more than I thought I would. I enjoy big-picture and critical thinking, both of which are prominent in management positions.
What are your plans after graduation?
Pursuing a job with my current employer, or similar company.
Have you have done an internship/co-op?
Yes, with NASA.
Where is your internship located?
Remote; NASA Ames Research Center
What you did you (or do you do) with your internship?
Software development of deployable applications and mission operations planning and development.
What was the most interesting thing you did during your internship?
I got to tour NASA ARC; it was a dream-like experience, with scenes reminiscent of a sci-fi movie.
What did you learn during your internship and how do you plan to use that knowledge as you continue with your engineering education.
I learned that education is work. At NASA, they prioritize intern training and development and work it into their agenda as work tasks. I find this to be not only valuable but a beautiful view of the education process. So, when I feel bad about learning on the job, I know it is part of the job. Learning is always part of the job, and not something to feel guilty about needing to do – learning never stops.
What do you think a person needs to be successful at engineering?
I think the biggest thing a person needs to be successful at anything is buy-in. The ability to take ownership of a project and dedicate all that you can to it is what makes your work in a project successful.
What motivates you?
The knowledge that I can make a difference in the world and that I can contribute to something bigger than myself.
What positive difference in the world do you hope to make through engineering?
I hope to contribute to a cause greater than myself and those like me. If my work only benefits those with privileges like me, my work will feel meaningless. The space industry has grown so much and in a lot of ways pertaining to maximizing profit. I want to benefit humanity and its future, I want to contribute to our earth, not just on leaving it.
Do you have a favorite project that you have worked on so far? Can you tell me about it and what was your role in helping with the project?
My favorite project is MEMESat-1, the Mission for Education and Multimedia Engagement. I have led the project for 2+ years, and it will be what I miss most when I graduate. This nonprofit-funded, 2U amateur radio satellite mission serves to educate K-12 and undergraduate students in space-related STEM topics. Seeing students grow in their own knowledge and confidence is amazing and helping your peers toward success is an invaluable experience. Additionally, helping to develop a satellite that is one day going to orbit the earth is an opportunity like no other, an incomparable experience.
What is your favorite thing to do in Athens?
Other than be at the SSRL, I enjoy spending time with my dog and roommates and working at Planet Earth Rocks and Crystals – I really enjoy arbitrarily sorting.