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What is astronautical engineering?

Whenever people ask me what I am studying, they are most definitely never expecting me to say “astronautical engineering”. With surprised, confused faces they often repeat back to me, “astrological engineering?” or “aeronautical engineering?” and I have to explain to them that astronautical engineering is a field that encompasses all thing space. That means that at USC, I have been exposed to classes that help me develop the engineering and math foundation of a mechanical engineer complemented with courses that dive deeper into spacecraft design, development, and space mission planning.

What makes astronautical engineering special at USC?

I have been able to be taught by industry professionals while also gaining a ton of hands-on experience that has both helped me learn what aspects of astronautical engineering I am interested in as well as prepared me for my future endeavors (pun intended). On top of all that, USC is conveniently located in a city that is home to every major aerospace company plus more. This has given me to opportunity to take tours of various facilities and interact with engineers from a plethora of companies that are just a short drive from campus. Finally, I love that at USC I have the option of getting my masters in astronautical engineering while simultaneously getting my bachelors. The Progressive Degree Program (PDP) lets me take graduate level courses where I have room with my undergraduate course so that I can graduate with both degrees in under five years.

Photo Gallery

Okay so I’ve blabbed about my major enough and as they say, a picture is worth 1000 words (and I happen to be a photography minor) so here are some pictures of me being an astronautical engineer over the past almost three years 🙂

Kaleigh Ray

MAJOR: Astronautical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2025 HOMETOWN: Bakersfield, California PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @k.rayray03 Short Bio - I have been involved in research at the Space Engineering Research Center (SERC) as well as a member of USC’s Rocket Propulsion Lab. At SERC, I worked on developing a docking system for cubesats with project CLING and am currently work on project MAVERIC, designing the power system of a 3U cubesat. In RPL, I am on the composites team and design team. Outside of Viterbi, I have interned at Astrolab where I was a Structures and Mechanisms Engineering intern and helped with lunar mission development and payload prototyping. I also like doing intramurals and photography on my free time!