Jackie Marquette and her race to Space
She interned at Boeing after her Freshman year. Now, she’s aiming for Mars
Growing up in a STEM family, Jacqueline Marquette was prepped to be an aeronautical engineer ever since she was a kid. As a young girl, she excelled in Math and Science, watched the retro space cartoon,“Cosmos”, and played with airplane models from her father’s Boeing office, all in which became the inspiration behind her early STEM career.
Jackie always knew that she wanted to study engineering, but it wasn’t until a high school trip to Lockheed Martin where she saw her career aligning with the stars.
“At Lockheed Martin, I had the chance to tour the factory and see the projects that the engineers are working on. I also had lunch with the engineers and get to know them on a personal level. The trip really inspired me to go into human space travel!”
Jackie’s love for human space travel earned her a Direct Admissions to the Aeronautical and Astronautical (AA) Engineering major right after high school — a selection only for 10 to 12 stellar high school graduates around the world. Despite being able to have priority access in competitive STEM classes, this is only the beginning of her journey. She further launched her career by participating in leadership positions in her first two years of college.
“I am currently the Community Outreach Coordinator at Society of Women in Engineering (SWE). My role is to expand SWE beyond the UW campus and work on a local scale. We connect SWE with K-12 schools and inspire younger girls to become engineers.”
As an officer of a female-led national organization, she feels the need to encourage future generations of women to close the unequal STEM gap.
“There is a a sheer majority of men in my STEM lecture halls including my professors. When it comes to team activities, men and women would only group with friends of the same gender,” she said “Being a woman or a man shouldn’t be barrier in teamwork and in leading one’s desired profession.”
In the summer after her freshman year, Jackie was a Material and Fabrication Intern at Boeing with the help of the Alliances for Learning and Vision for Underrepresented Americans (ALVA) program at the University of Washington — the program aids underrepresented post-freshmen engineers to acquire a summer internship.
In her application, Jackie went through a strenuous process of sending in her resume, writing an essay, and having a “nerve-wrecking” interview with representatives from Boeing and the College of Engineering. In the end, her hard work paid off: she and 14 other freshmen entered the company of their dreams in the summer of 2017.
“As a Material and Fabrication Intern, I worked on the product development in a smaller Boeing office in Mulkilteo, Washington. My team and I worked on developing new materials for the engine nacelle, which is like an engine casing. This includes coming up with better high-temperature materials and acoustic properties because the goal is to make a cheaper and quieter engine nacelle. We were also the bridge between the Research & Development and the manufacturing stage. Here, we analyzed the R&D and implement the necessary research onto a new design of a plane.”
Her internship allowed Jackie to work on side projects. “I was part of an intern-only design project where we designed a new freighter plane. I was the propulsion lead in which I focused on the engine and engine nacelle.”
One of Jackie’s takeaway from her Boeing internship is her determination to actualize a future in human space travel. To her, the excitement behind sending humans to Mars is more than just about the hype; it is also a trajectory that opens to new forms of humanity.
“In the 1960s, we had a Space Race where we sent people to the moon; there was a great momentum in space travel and it was also a time when the number of people in STEM skyrocketed. However, as political leadership changes and more social priorities to focus on, the Space Race died down due to the lack of funding. Now in popular culture, you have characters like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos who are reviving this mission in their companies, SpaceX and Blue Origin respectively; I’m very intrigued by the idea of sending people to Mars because I believe that humans will eventually have a place in space. This project is the next step for people and should be America’s focus.”
With an AA degree to look forward to, Jackie is on her way to building the space travel dream a plausible reality for all: “There is a difference between sending people to space and sending people to space safely.” One of her biggest aspirations is to be working with the space crew and designing habitats on Mars.
This summer, she will be rejoining Boeing (again!) as a Sophomore Intern in Oklahoma City!
Written by Anh Thu Nguyen