photo of Jamie McCullough in front of space shuttle


Friendswood, TX

Technical Area

Space Flight

What has been your most influential ASE or EM course and why?

My favorite course, strangely enough, was not even required for the degree plan. All students must take an Undergraduate Studies (UGS) course, and I took Popular Astronomy with Professor Gebhardt, though there are many other courses to choose from. It's easy to see why this would be attractive to a space-bound aerospace major. I chose aerospace engineering because space fascinates me just as much as pushing boundaries does. I didn't expect to fall in love with astrophysics at all. Professor Gebhardt discussed very difficult concepts like General Relativity, Cosmology, and Quantum Mechanics in beautifully simplistic ways. The history of the universe, Dark Energy, Dark Matter, variable stars, black holes — it was intriguing as well as mystifying. I name this course as my most influential because it started my minor in Astronomy and reinforced my decision to stay on the space-flight track. It begun the foray into the astronomy department and may precede a future graduate degree in astrophysics.

Has involvement in student groups and/or organizations made a difference in your education?

I would highly recommend joining any student group you may be considering. Being active in recreation sports, engineering organizations, or any of the diverse groups on campus will greatly enrich your college experience. I was lucky enough to get involved early, with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), AIAA, and the Conceptual Self Defense Club.

One of the greatest impacts on my education was joining WIALD, or Women in Aerospace for Leadership and Development. WIALD is fantastic, because it gave me hands on experience and leadership opportunities early on. As a freshman, I was lucky to be a Navigations Team Lead, outfitting a glider with an autopilot system. I had no experience with guidance systems, or really any coding or electronics beforehand, but I gained this knowledge along the way. WIALD picks a new project every year that pushes us to learn while still meeting tough deadlines. It was also a great way to get introduced to all of the resources the Aerospace Department offers students, like the ASL and the machine shop.

I'm also very glad that I got involved with Taekwondo while I was on campus. I had previous martial arts experience, but through being an officer in Conceptual Self Defense, I could block out my time for learning something that wasn't a technical class. Working out helped me balance a high class load and tempered long nights spent staring at a computer.