Katya Casper ’07 first fell in love with flight when she landed a summer job in high school manning the desk of a flight school in exchange for flying lessons. It was there that she decided to change her intended major from computer science to aerospace engineering.
Casper currently designs and executes both ground and flight test experiments at Sandia National Labs, providing the data needed to improve flight predictions and accomplish flight national security missions.
“Right now, I am enjoying working complicated projects that bring expertise together from different parts of Sandia National Labs. Bringing people from disparate fields together to work challenging problems is hard, but where we can make the greatest progress in the field. Gaining new understanding out of initial confusion is exciting to me!”
As a student, she had the opportunity to intern at NASA, Boeing, Purdue University, and Sandia National Labs, which let her compare careers in academia and industry and aided in figuring out her professional goals. A series of experiences over the years has allowed Casper to get to where she is today.
Casper says the Park Scholarships program had a tremendous impact during her time as a student and on her career. While she knew she wanted to pursue engineering, Casper explains that the Park Scholarships program allowed her to grow as an individual and become more aware of the broader community outside of engineering.
“The program also gave me a strong networking base of colleagues and mentors, who I have been able to engage as needed over the years. My Park mentor was instrumental in me getting my first internship as an undergraduate, and that first work experience opened the door to many future opportunities.”
Casper emphasizes the importance of finding internships and gaining experience in her advice to current Park Scholars: “Seek out internships and travel opportunities as an undergraduate. It’s the time to explore new and exciting opportunities, even if they are outside your direct career path. Those experiences will help you figure out where and why you want to follow a specific career path.”