Meet Alessandra Labadessa, a junior at the University of California, Davis, double majoring in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. She also has a minor in Comparative Literature because she loves reading!
How would you describe what you are studying to our readers?
The goal of my studies is to learn all the information necessary to design, build, and operate aircraft including planes, rockets, and spacecraft. Almost everything I am learning is rooted in the fundamentals of math, physics, and engineering.
What first interested you about aerospace engineering? Were you introduced to it in school? And by whom? A teacher? A parent?
When I was a kid, my parents took me to Chabot Space and Science Center almost every weekend. I learned so much about space through their immersive exhibits, but my real interest in space began by looking through the telescopes at Chabot. Seeing the objects beyond earth and our atmosphere completely changed my perspective on the world. Those visits gave me a glimpse into how big and beautiful our universe is. My interest in space began before I even knew what the word aerospace meant. I knew I liked science and math in school and then I searched for things I might want to study in college. When I found aerospace as an option, I leaned into that old interest of mine.
What is your favorite part of studying aerospace engineering? Is it a certain class? A certain lab? A certain professor?
My favorite part of studying aerospace engineering is feeling like I can change the world. I love how my studies push me. I learn something new every single day, and my understanding of the world around me has completely changed. Additionally, I’ve had great professors and everyone in aerospace has such a passion for it. The excitement of those working in aerospace is unlike any other field I’ve seen. Everyone wants to succeed and come together for the common goal of pushing science forward.
Are there many women studying aerospace engineering? Do you interact mostly with boys in your classes?
I’ve met a few other women studying aerospace engineering, though there are far more men in my classes than women. Hopefully, the number of women in the field will increase in the future as more of us choose to go into science and engineering.
What has been the most challenging part of studying aerospace engineering so far?
The most challenging part of studying aerospace engineering is the pace of classes and the magnitude of information you need to master. That being said, by devoting focus and time, it’s completely doable.
When you graduate, what do you hope to do with your degree? Go on for more schooling? Go to work?
I intend to work in the space or defense industry in a managerial role. I love working with people and I love science, so I want to combine the two. I plan on starting my career as an aerospace engineer and completing my Master of Business Administration degree while working. My ultimate goal is to one day be a Chief Technology Officer at a large space company.
How do you hope to make a difference in the world using your degree?
I was drawn to aerospace because I want to explore the vast unknown. My goal is to make science and technology developments that change our world, whether it be the systems we use to explore space or the knowledge we acquire along the way.
What advice do you have for our readers who may want to become engineers one day?
You can do it! Don’t be intimidated by the engineering field. Believe in yourself. You are capable of much more than you think. You can absolutely be a successful engineer if you put your mind to it and work hard.