Alumni in the Field: Meghan Callaway’s First Satellite Launch

Following is a conversation with alumna Meghan Callaway, 2015 Prescott campus graduate in Aerospace Engineering, Astro Track.

Meghan Callaway in front of a Space Systems Loral satellite.

By Michelle Tissot

Q: Where are you presently employed?

A: Right out of Embry-Riddle, I was employed by Space Systems Loral (SSL). We are known as a premier designer, manufacturer, and integrator of reliable communications satellites and systems. My current role at SS/L is Electrical Vehicle/Attitude Control Engineer. To simplify, I electrically integrate and test full-sized communication satellites. My specialized focus is with Attitude Control Subsystem, which is lumped into electrical integration and testing.

Q: What is your favorite project so far?

A: Over the last year, I have been a main part of the satellite BRIsat. BRIsat is a GEO communication satellite for a bank over in Indonesia. I have learned so much about the satellite over this past year, but mainly I have learned the electrical functionalities of it, and how units interact with each other to work as a whole.

Right now I’m in Kourou, French Guiana in South America where we will launch BRIsat on June 8th, 2016 at the European Space Agency launch facility (check out the SSL Facebook for updates). I am here because we as a team continue to test the satellite all the way up to encapsulation into the rocket. In addition, there is always more to learn so I am taking in as much knowledge as possible from the people I’m working with. It’s very exciting and I love my job!

Q: How did Embry-Riddle help you achieve your dreams?

A: Embry-Riddle helped me get to where I am thanks to the intensive Aerospace-specific courses. For me personally, I have Dr. Ken Bordignon to thank for everything. When I started at Riddle, I knew I wanted to be Astro track, but didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to do until I took Dr. Bordignon's Controls course. Well, you can say he had me hooked. The class wasn't at all easy, but I love being challenged, so it worked. After AE430 Controls, I became the Controls tutor, convinced Dr. Bordignon to do an independent study with me, and was lucky enough to have him teach Advance EE Controls as well. Moral of the story, Embry-Riddle did more than just teach me basic engineering, or even basic aerospace engineering. Riddle gave me hands-on experience in a wide variety of subjects, but also let me focus and learn more about the one subject that I fell so in love with – Control Systems — which is how I got my job today.

Q: What advice do you have for those interested in engineering?

My advice for future engineers is to find a subject that you like and try to learn as much as you can. Then get as much knowledge and experience in school where you have access to some of the greatest professors in the world. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions. Sounds like a simple thing, but I was always the student that asked a ton of questions, especially if I could not understand something. Going in to see a professor to ask for help is one of the biggest and useful tools that a lot of students don't take advantage of. Use the office hours and tutors. There's never shame in asking for help. I only wish I figured that one out before the “Gauntlet” (which happens your sophomore year). And my own personal advice is take Dr. Bordignon, Dr. Fabian, and Dr. Benavides if you can. These professors teach in a way that gets you excited to learn, and excited to go to class.