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Attending USC has afforded me with some of the coolest opportunities and allowed me to grow as a person, student, engineer, artist, and so much more. Here are some of the bizarre opportunities I have gotten by attending USC and specifically being a student in Viterbi:

  1. Internship after my freshman year – I got to work at a super cool rover company and the opportunity just about fell into my lap. I had absolutely no intention of doing anything the summer after my freshman year, but after hearing about the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship from one of the members in USC’s Rocket Propulsion Lab (RPL), I thought… hmmm might as well apply! Imagine getting to drive a lunar rover on your first day of work (pretty cool)
  2. Working on a research project that went to the International Space Station – I was able to do research at the Space Engineering Research Center (SERC) under the Center for Undergraduate Research in the Viterbi School of Engineering (CURVE) program MY FRESHMAN YEAR. The project that I worked on got (and still is) flying on the ISS starting this past summer which is awesome. I am now currently the lead Power Systems Engineer for another project at SERC which is a cubesat project. So basically I’ve work on rovers, small satellite gadgets, and cubesats with the help of USC… what else??
  3. I build rockets – I’ve built like an insane amount of rocket parts as a composites engineer in RPL over the past 2.5 years. I’m super close to finishing up our most recent vehicle Aftershock which will go to space in about a month and break a bunch of records and stuff. No big deal though.
  4. I see Olympians everyday – I’m a coach’s assistant for the USC Track and Field team which means that I help out at practices and meets where I casually hang out with some pretty cool people. Hint: they run really fast
  5. I get to be an artist too – I have always been extremely passionate about art (I literally wanted to be a painter when I was a kid). I, for the first time in a while, have been enabled to work the artistic part of my brain by minoring in Photography. This minor lets me take some awesome studio art classes in Roski and has given me great opportunities to learn about really interesting artists in LA, as well as go visit some of their exhibitions around the LA area. I also get to display my art in my classes as well as at USC throughout the year.
  6. My friends – I have met so many extremely talented and inspiring people that I get the pleasure of handing out with every single day. One nice thing about college is that you sorta get to have sleepovers with your besties whenever you want.

Please feel free to read my other blogs that go into more depth about other things I have done as a USC student!

Here is a link to my last year’s Why USC? Blog : Why USC? – USC Viterbi | Undergraduate Admission

Here’s a link to USC RPL’s website and youtube so you can see some of the projects I have worked on starting my freshman year (2021): USCRPL (website) (77) USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory – YouTube (YouTube)

Article about my freshman research project that went to space: First USC Research Prototype Launches for Testing on the International Space Station – Space Engineering Research Center (

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!