Outstanding Senior Spotlight: Lovleen Kaur

After graduation, aerospace science and engineering major Lovleen Kaur will head to NASA as a Graduate Pathways Intern and to UCLA for her Master of Science degree in computational fluid dynamics. She talks about how UC Davis helped keep her passion for flight alive and forge her path to the stars and beyond.  

Lovleen Kaur stands in front of a green and yellow background
Outstanding Senior Award winner in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Lovleen Kaur (Cody Duty/UC Davis)

What inspired you to pursue aerospace science and engineering?  

Kites and astronomy were a big part of my childhood. Aerospace was the perfect career path to bring it all together. I decided I wanted to be an aerospace engineer very early on, and after almost a decade of that decision, I still feel the same excitement, if not more. My time at UC Davis has certainly helped me carry forward the excitement and prepared me to enter the field.  

Are there instructors at UC Davis who helped carry that excitement forward, as well?  

I've learned a lot from Professors of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Mohammed Hafez and Stephen Robinson. I met them both during my very first quarter in the “Introduction to Aerospace” class. 

Professor Robinson’s knowledge, experience and enthusiasm for spaceflight are inspiring, to say the least.  

Professor Hafez's rigorous classes, presented with his distinct teaching style, were the highlight of my junior year. Through his classes I became genuinely interested in computational methods and gained the confidence to pursue it for graduate school. I might've been on a very different graduate school trajectory if it weren't for Professor Hafez's “Engineering Analysis” and “Theoretical Aerodynamics,” two of my favorite classes.  

I'm grateful to have been their student for various classes after that point.  

What has been a particularly rewarding experience during your undergraduate years?  

For my very first internship with NASA Johnson Space Center, or JSC, I was in a robotics lab. I had projects that were testing my skills with software that I had absolutely no experience in. It was very thrilling to learn new things rapidly and apply the knowledge to real projects. It was rewarding to see the final product work, and learn that with enough effort, any skill can be acquired, so a major specialty is just the starting point. There is no perfect-fit project; the willingness to learn as we go might just be our biggest asset.  

What’s next for you?  

I head back to NASA JSC on Monday after graduation weekend for my fourth rotation. I'll be working in the Applied Aerosciences/Computational Fluid Dynamics branch as a Graduate Pathways Intern. After the summer, I start my master's degree at UCLA with a concentration in computational fluid dynamics and continue rotating at NASA JSC in the summers.  

What advice do you have for future aerospace engineers starting out their college careers?  

Try challenging things so you can build real confidence in yourself. Know that things usually work themselves out if you just focus on earning your own respect with genuine effort. Keep trying for that research position or internship even if it takes many applications. And lastly, take advantage of the limited time you have with so many amazing people here to teach you their life's work. 

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