SpaceX Intern Leading Aerospace Club to New Heights

April 14, 2022
Annika Moser

Q&A with Annika Moser

Junior Mechanical Engineering major from Columbia, Missouri

Aero at Baylor club president

SpaceX intern

Undergraduate researcher

Q: How did you decide on Baylor? A: Originally, my plan was to attend music school, like Boston Conservatory. I wanted to be a violinist and a pianist there; so, I was hoping to dual major in Violin Performance and Piano Performance. However, I ended up taking a very different route. At the time, I felt like the Lord was leading me down a different path. I did not think that pursing music for my career was the right choice for me. In high school, I was inclined toward math and science a little bit more; so, I decided to go for engineering. I went to Invitation to Excellence at Baylor, and I really fell in love with the professors and the school. I felt at home, so I believed that Baylor would be a great place for me to end up. I decided to compete for the engineering scholarship and won, which was exciting. Especially after that, I came to the realization that, “I think the Lord wants me here; that’s pretty clear.” It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Q: What student organizations are you involved in?

A: The one that I’m most involved with is Aero at Baylor. It is the first and only aerospace engineering club at the University. Currently, I am the president and have been since the beginning of last spring. Since then, the club has grown tremendously. There were about six students when I became president; now, we have 150 on the contact list, and there are at least 60-70 active members. We have two active competition teams that are funded by L3Harris, a military defense company here in Waco. Also, we are working on getting funding from a couple of other companies for a rocketry program – the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition. In Aero, we do a lot of solid works modeling, 3D printing, and aerodynamics analysis. We even had an information session with NASA about the Mars rover last semester, and we will be hosting SpaceX this semester as well. It has been full speed ahead for the past year and so much fun. I love everybody that I get to work with, and it is nice to have hands-on experience outside of the classroom.

Q: What has been your favorite ECS class?

Last semester, I took Advanced Thermodynamics with Dr. (Lulin) Jiang. She is so cool, and I loved having her. That class was awesome. I loved learning about combustion analysis which you learn about toward the end of the class. I love chemistry; so, I really enjoyed learning about the combustion of different engines. That is the path I am hoping to go on—working in engine testing for rockets and other things like that.

Q: What can you say about your upcoming SpaceX internship?

A: I will be a Test Operations intern for the summer at SpaceX in McGregor, TX. I am excited to announce that I will be working on the Raptor Engine Test team. One great thing about SpaceX is that everyone is switching projects all the time, and you get to work with a lot of different people. I am really excited for that. I am fast-paced, and I like working on lots of different things; I am so excited for this coming summer. It will definitely be a challenge. The research experience I’ve had over the past few years with Dr. David Jack and the experience I’ve had in Aero at Baylor really helped me with landing the internship. I recommend that everyone gets involved in what they think they want to do right when they get to college. It makes an enormous difference getting to try out different projects and fields of study within engineering outside of the classroom.

Q: What is your research experience?

A: At Invitation to Excellence, I met with Dr. David Jack, the professor that has been my advisor since the beginning of freshman year. I have been working in research involving materials science and non-destructive testing since then. I would have never been able to learn about things like that in this field if I had not been involved right away as a first-year student. It was weird and difficult at first. The kindness of the graduate Ph.D. students and professors was essential in allowing me to get to where I am now. Last summer, I ran an independent research project under L3Harris completely on my own, as a sophomore. Baylor is amazing because if a student is working hard and showing that they are passionate about their work, any professor will be thrilled to give you an opportunity. I would have never had that experience anywhere else.

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