Marie Wulff, ECE senior pursuing an electrical engineering degree, has been awarded the prestigious Brook Owens fellowship. The 44 fellows for the class of 2021 were chosen from among more than 800 competitive applications from prestigious institutions within the US and abroad. As part of the fellowship experience, Brookies (as the fellows are called) are matched with internship opportunities in aerospace organizations, and two senior or executive level industry mentors. Marie is headed to Planet Labs, a geospatial insights company based in California.
The Brooke Owens Fellowship was established in honor of space industry pioneer and pilot Brooke Owens (1980 – 2016) to inspire and serve “as a career boost to capable young women and other gender minorities who, like Brooke, aspire to explore our sky and stars, to shake up the aerospace industry, and to help their fellow people here on planet Earth.”
Marie keeps a whirlwind schedule, but we did manage to snag a few moments with her. She shared her thoughts on her academic journey, her hopes, and advice for students.
On her path to electrical engineering:
I came to the University of Minnesota initially with an interest in biomedical engineering, but switched to electrical engineering as I felt it to be more flexible. I’m really glad I switched! When I was in elementary school, my science teacher encouraged me to apply to a STEM camp for women. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I came out of it knowing that I wanted to be an engineer. From there, I attended as many STEM camps as I could. At one of these camps I actually met Kale Hedstrom (lab coordinator for AEM) while taking a summer course on circuits and robotics. I was also part of my high school robotics team. I was attracted to the U because of its location, the great engineering programs it had, and the opportunities for scholarships and financial aid.
On her opportunity with Planet Labs:
I am really excited to work at Planet Labs. They do Earth-based observation satellites! Their mission to learn more about our planet speaks to me. I am very excited to work in a new city, and to work on cool new projects! I think I will be able to gain new perspectives and connect with amazing people with similar interests.
On her hopes and goals for the future:
I’d like to work in industry for a bit, and perhaps return for a master’s degree in systems engineering, or attend law school. Then I plan to run for senator. I’d also like to start my own business. Overall, I have a lot of big dreams!
On other awards or opportunities received:
I am a recipient of the MN Space Grant Consortium scholarship, Brian L. Fitterer scholarship (from the University), the Bernice M. Eiswirth scholarship, and the St. Paul Area Athena Award.
On her involvement in co- and extracurricular activities:
I am the chief engineer for the Small Satellite Research Lab, the MCAE kickoff ambassador, and helped establish the Diversity and Inclusion committee for the UMN SWE chapter. I have also served as vice chair for SESB D&I committee, and subsequently became its executive director, social media coordinator for WIE, vice chair for IEEE UMN, and peer leader for CSE. I am also engaged in directed research, and am on the ballroom dance competition team.
Advice for aspiring engineers, aerospace or otherwise:
Utilize resources! I have never hesitated to reach out for help when I needed it, academically or personally, and that has been critical to smoothing out the wrinkles in my journey through college. It’s okay to feel awkward or nervous about asking for help, but make the leap. It’s worth it!
We wish Marie the best as she embarks on this new and exciting journey.