Smith College Posse STEM Scholar Alina Siminiouk.
Smith College Posse STEM Scholar Alina Siminiouk.

Smith STEM Scholar Studies Aerospace Engineering, Works at NASA

Summer 2019 | New York

Alina Siminiouk, a STEM Scholar at Smith College, spent last summer at NASA’s Ames Research Center testing and developing technology for the TechEdSat nano-satellite series. A rising senior, she is currently studying engineering science with a focus on aerospace.

For Alina, a career in aerospace seemed unrealistic at first, but her excitement at the idea of interning for NASA was the push she needed to apply. She was one of five Smithies to be accepted to Ames, which is located in Silicon Valley.

“I’ve liked space ever since I was a kid,” Alina says. “I grew up learning English in a Russian household by watching a lot of space documentaries on the science channel.”

Alina is studying engineering science with a focus on aerospace.

During last summer’s experience, she helped develop a testing apparatus for the Exo-Brake, a parachute-like device that modulates drag in the upper atmosphere when a satellite re-enters Earth. Alongside her team, Alina also developed mounting plates and other components of the satellite.

TechEdSat-8 launched from Earth on the fifth of December last year aboard the SpaceX’s International Space Station resupply mission. It was jettisoned into space on January 31.

This summer, Alina reunites with the Ames team to work on her own project, one she started at Smith to collect thermospheric density data needed in order to automate the Exo-Brake. She has also recruited a group of five other Smithies to work on a Thermosphere Test Probe for a future satellite, TechEdSat-11, which is projected to launch in late 2020.

“The data collected from each satellite will further TechEdSat’s mission,” she says, pointing out that the Thermosphere Test Probe marks a historically significant moment, too: “It will make Smith College the first all-women’s college to create a cubesat experiment or spacecraft.”