Aerospace engineering undergrad Megan Jordan selected for UAH’s first Brooke Owens Fellowship

Megan Jordan

Aerospace engineering student and UAH’s first Brooke Owens Fellow, Megan Jordan

Michael Mercier | UAH

Megan Jordan, an undergraduate at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of the University of Alabama System, has been selected to receive UAH’s very first Brooke Owens Fellowship. As a result of this honor, she will be interning at Amazon Prime Air this summer. Jordan was the recipient of UAH’s first Patti Grace Smith Fellowship as well.

The Brooke Owens Fellowship was founded in 2016 to honor the memory of industry pioneer and pilot D. Brooke Owens. The program was co-founded by Lori Garver, the former Deputy Administrator of NASA and current CEO of Earthrise Alliance; Cassie Lee, Advanced Programs Lead for Weather and Remote Sensing at Lockheed Martin Space; and William Pomerantz, the Vice President for Special Projects at Virgin Orbit. The Brooke Owens Fellowship celebrates its ongoing mission and legacy of “disrupting the historical gender imbalance in the aerospace industry by continuing its mission to provide opportunities and access to talented young professionals from historically black colleges and universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges and international universities.”

“Being a Brooke Owens Fellow is such a huge honor in itself,” Jordan says. “I think one of the most rewarding parts of this experience is knowing that you are a part of a fellowship whose creation is so profound. The founders all got together to create this group that they know Brooke Owens, who the fellowship is named after, would be proud of. The fellowship encompasses all the things that she stood for, including diversity, inclusivity and her excitement and passion for aerospace. That to me is what makes being a part of this fellowship so special. I am very excited to be UAH’s first Brooke Owens Fellow and Patti Grace Smith Fellow. I hope to shine a light on both programs and encourage students to apply. These are truly once in a lifetime opportunities that can truly kick start your career. These fellowships make what seems impossible possible!”

Jordan is a third-year aerospace engineering student. Originally from Mobile, AL, she moved to Huntsville to pursue her love of space exploration. Growing up, she had a fascination for science and engineering that took off with her acceptance into the Student Introduction to Engineering (S.I.T.E.) program at the University of Alabama (UA) during her sophomore year of high school. During S.I.T.E. she worked on a variety of engineering projects, toured labs and observed real-world programs that kindled her love of aerospace engineering.

“The Student Introduction to Engineering program at UA actually sparked my interest in pursuing aerospace as a career,” Jordan notes. “Before S.I.T.E. I had no idea that aerospace engineering was attainable, so it means the world that I was accepted into the program. I believe that more programs like S.I.T.E. should be implemented at a lower educational level. It’s really important to spark interest in STEM at a young age.”

Jordan recognizes the support provided by two important mentors that helped her gain this latest honor.

“One of my biggest supporters throughout this entire process was Jennifer Staton,” the student says. “She is the Fellowship Advisor here at UAH. She was there with me every step of the way. She truly encourages her students and works with us to portray our thoughts in such a creative way. In addition, Dr. Richard Tantaris in the Mechanical Engineering department at UAH was hands-on during the application process. He is always so supportive of all of his students.”

As a UAH freshman, Jordan was elected Vice President of the Space Hardware Club which provides hands-on engineering experiences for students outside of the classroom. Through her position she hosted a variety of events in collaboration with organizations like the Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers and remains an active member of the club volunteering in the outreach program.

In 2021, Jordan was one of 43 students selected to be a part of the inaugural class of Patti Grace Smith Fellows (PGSF), a sister fellowship to the Brooke Owens Fellowship. The PGSF is specifically for Black undergraduate students pursuing their first internship in aerospace. As a fellow, she interned at Hermeus Corporation, a hypersonic aircraft company based in Atlanta, GA, where she worked on the Structures Team doing early-stage vehicle design for the Hermeus demonstrator aircraft.

“Hypersonics are pretty hot in the aerospace industry right now,” Jordan says. “I think what sets Hermeus apart from the handful of other companies that have similar goals is the team. The team dynamic at Hermeus is something I've never experienced before. Everyone is so bright, kind and excited to come to work every day. Seeing that passion and drive from everyone there made my internship experience much more meaningful. As an intern you’ll have the opportunity to actually own hardware and work on the same projects as the full-time employees.”

Jordan also completed an engineering internship at Northrop Grumman and is currently working as an undergraduate researcher with MESMER Research Group at UAH. She was recognized as a 2021 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Diversity Scholar and will be interning at Amazon Prime Air in Seattle, WA, for the summer of 2022.

“Prime Air is Amazon's drone/UAV delivery system,” she explains. “UAVs have grown to be very prominent in the aerospace industry. I without a doubt feel that this internship will go above any and all expectations I have. The fellowship is known for giving students very meaningful summer jobs, and that is something I am incredibly thankful for. It is very cool to know that the work I will be doing as a Hardware Development Engineer Intern this summer will actually contribute to goal of Prime Air!”

This summer Jordan also will be traveling from Seattle to Washington, D.C., to attend the annual Brooke Owens Fellowship summit. “Saying I am excited would be an understatement. I’ll be able to meet the fellowship founders in person, and all of the other wonderful fellows who are spread out across the world! Astronauts, CEOs and all sorts of industry professionals will be in attendance. Not only will this be a great way to network, but I think the most important aspect is building lifelong friendships in the community we love. In these friendships we look out for one another and support each other in future endeavors.”

Speaking of those future goals, Jordan is open to a variety of exciting possibilities.

“The neat thing about my experience with fellowships is that I've been able to work in such a wide array of areas leading up to graduation,” she says. “As far as my plans for after graduation, I am keeping my options open. I am interested in both aviation and space. I think what I am most excited for is upcoming missions to the Moon and Mars. I think I would truly enjoy doing the work that will make those missions successful!”

The Brooke Owens Fellowship is open to women and gender minorities with interests in aerospace. The Patti Grace Smith Fellowship reaches out to Black undergrads in their first or second year of college. The Zed Factor Fellowship is open to any minority with interests in aerospace and community service, and the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship is open to all genders, specifically juniors and seniors and graduate students interested in commercial space exploration.