Two Mechanical Engineering Students Receive Brooke Owens Fellowship, Aimed to increase Diversity in Aerospace Industry

Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science

Leslie Baker Lyon and Catherine “Catie” Spivey
Leslie Baker Lyon and Catherine “Catie” Spivey

Two Mechanical Engineering students, Leslie Baker Lyon and Catherine “Catie” Spivey, were named 2021 Brooke Owens Fellows. The Brooke Owens Fellowship Program is a nationally-acclaimed nonprofit organization recognizing exceptional undergraduate women and other gender minorities with space and aviation internships, senior mentorship, and a lifelong professional network.

The Class of 2021 is the fifth class of “Brookie” Fellows. This year, more than 800 undergraduate students applied from 339 universities in 14 countries. Forty-four Fellows were selected through a competitive application process involving written and creative submissions, interviews with the Fellowship’s volunteer-based leadership team and its close network, and interviews with Host Companies. The selected Fellows have demonstrated their desire to pursue a career in aerospace, a record of leadership, a commitment to their communities, and their inexhaustible creativity.

Leslie is a third-year mechanical engineering student. Their interests lie in ways aerospace engineering can be used in service of social justice, climate change mitigation, and supporting thriving ecosystems and human communities. 

Leslie comes to engineering as a nontraditional, first-generation student. They moved from Indiana to the Pacific Northwest as a young adult and established a career as a graphic designer and project manager in the printing industry. However, they had long been interested in science and math and decided to enroll in Portland Community College’s mechanical engineering transfer program. 

In 2019, Leslie received the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium Scholarship and served as a NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. There, they worked on a Mars rover building competition. In 2020, Leslie was asked to return to Ames as a Community College Aerospace Scholars Student Mentor, providing support and guidance to students and encouraging them to continue pursuing careers in aerospace. 

As a Brookie, Leslie looks forward to interning with XPRIZE. Over the long term, they look forward to dedicating their career to championing underrepresented people in STEM and using engineering to support people and the planet. 

Catie Spivey is in the final year of her mechanical engineering degree program. As an MME Pathway student, she has already started working on her master's degree in mechanical engineering, which she'll officially start upon graduation in June 2021.

Catie served as Lead Mechanical Engineer for OreSat, a 2U CubeSat being developed by the Portland State Aerospace Society, before becoming the airframe lead for their LV4 rocket for her senior capstone project. She also founded the We in Space student group (a WoAA chapter) to provide a community and help others "find their place in space" while completing STEM outreach events to the PNW.

Catie is also an Ambassador for the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science and a member of Delta Gamma. As a Brooke Owens Fellow, Catie will spend the summer of 2021 working at United Launch Alliance.

“We strongly believe that diversity and inclusion promote creativity and innovation. We are proud to see the hard work of Catie and Leslie be rewarded with this honorable fellowship,” says Sung Yi, Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.