BBA student awarded Brooke Owens Fellowship
Like many children, Eva Reiling 21BBA wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up. “I would always watch those ‘Future of Space’ or ‘The Future of Flight’ videos on YouTube, where it shows future models of airplanes and spaceships,” Reiling said. “I always thought that was so cool.”
Perhaps less typically, she also carried around a little notebook in which she wrote down business ideas. “I always wanted to start a company when I was little,” she said.
When it came time to apply to college, her interests hadn’t changed. Unwilling to set aside her love of STEM subjects or her passion for entrepreneurship, Reiling enrolled in the dual degree program—upon graduation, she will hold a bachelor of business administration from Goizueta and a bachelor of science in engineering from Georgia Tech.
Reiling’s talent and ambition have not gone unnoticed. This year, she was one of a select group of students to receive a Brooke Owens Fellowship. Created to honor space industry pioneer and pilot Dawn Brooke Owens, the fellowship facilitates mentorships and paid internships at leading aerospace companies for undergraduate women interested in a career in the aerospace industry.
Reiling first heard of the fellowship at an internship fair she attended as a sophomore: A recruiter mentioned it and urged her to apply. She scrawled “Brooke Owens Fellowship” on the back of his business card and forgot about it.
Months later, she stumbled across the fellowship again on a college job board and began to read through the extensive application process. She knew well the value in programs geared toward women in STEM: In high school, she had attended an all-women’s engineering camp, which helped her realize she wanted to be an engineer. Moreover, she knew she would have to work hard to build a network in the aerospace industry. While she comes from a family of entrepreneurs, she is the first one to “go anywhere near” a STEM field, as she put it.
She applied for the fellowship. “I felt like if I put the work in, that I could be pretty competitive,” she said.
Allison Kays, assistant professor in the practice of accounting, more than agreed. “When Eva first told me about the program I thought, ‘Wow, was this program made for you?’” Kays said. “Eva’s charisma, work ethic and enthusiasm for life make her a natural leader. These qualities in combination with her unique dual degree in business and engineering make her the perfect candidate for the fellowship.” Kays, who taught Reiling for two semesters, wrote her letter of recommendation.
Still, when she received the good news, Reiling was in shock. She is the only industrial engineer in the 2020 cohort. She is the only business student, too. “It was a very good surprise,” she said.
The fellowship matched her with Airbus, where she will work as a space systems intern for OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between Airbus and OneWeb that aims to mass produce satellites for the first time.
“I’m really excited to work at Airbus. I don’t really know what to expect,” Reiling said—the company has been vague about her job duties until her background check clears. But she is most excited to meet the other young women who received the fellowship: Six of them attend Georgia Tech, and the group met for coffee recently. “They all seem so happy to be in the fellowship also. They’re constantly talking in the group chat. I think it’s very awesome, the community that they all have been making.”
Despite her childhood dreams of space travel, Reiling never expected to end up pursuing a career in the aerospace industry. After landing an internship at NASA as a high school senior, contract work with a NASA contractor as a Goizueta student, and now the fellowship match with Airbus, Reiling said, “I guess the universe wants me in aerospace.”
One thing her experience has taught her is that anyone can thrive in the aerospace industry—not just engineers. During her internship with NASA, she met a UGA School of Journalism graduate who was in charge of nasa.gov’s online newsletters. “You wouldn’t expect a writer to work at NASA,” Reiling said. “If you have a love for space but you’re not going into engineering, you can still be part of that community, which is really cool.”
As for her plans in the industry, Reiling said, “I’m very excited to just jump right in.” But her ultimate goal is start her own business in the tech industry.
Kays is confident Reiling will achieve whatever she puts her mind to. “I am so impressed with Eva’s ability to juggle both business and science classes, all while maintaining a big smile on her face,” she said. “She is one smart cookie, and I have no doubt that she will continue to impress us and her future employers.”