Aerospace Engineering


Tiera Guinn Fletcher is an African American engineer who graduated from MIT in 2017 and works for Boeing. She is one of the designers and structural analysts building the Space Launch System for NASA which is set to send people to Mars.

Fletcher was born in the greater Atlanta area in Georgia. Her interest and attraction to math and science began at the age of six and was cultivated by her parents. Her mother Sheila, was an accountant and her father was a construction worker. Her parents encouraged her to calculate things and measure things in her daily life. These exercises – including coupon clipping, totaling up grocery receipts, and learning about the applications of architecture – challenged Fletcher and set her apart from other kids her age. At eleven years old, Fletcher zeroed in on her interest in Aerospace engineering while participating in an aerospace program put on by Lockheed Martin. Fletcher went on to study aerospace in college at MIT.

Fletcher lives in New Orleans, Louisiana where she works on the assembly of the Space Launch System. She was married in July 2018 to Myron Fletcher, another aerospace engineer who also works at Boeing. Both she and her husband share an interest in influencing young people to join the world of STEM along with increasing the diversity of STEM fields.

Fletcher attended Wheeler High School in Marietta, Georgia. During her senior year of high school, Fletcher received an internship at NASA in Langley, Virginia. She also landed a research internship at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2014. The internship involved assisting in the research of landing performance in aircraft. Through these internships her interest in the field grew and she solidified her choice in pursuing aerospace engineering as a major in college and an eventual career.

Fletcher attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated with a 5.0 GPA and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Aerospace Engineering in June 2017. She participated in a mentorship program to help other students at MIT, this helped instil confidence in herself and her capabilities.

After her first year, Fletcher participated in undergraduate research studying design optimization of aircraft at MIT. Her second year, she again participated in undergraduate research, this time studying Network Analysis. During her junior and senior years of college, Fletcher participated in two different internships at Boeing. From June 2015 to June 2016 Fletcher was a Systems Engineering Intern at Boeing where she helped design, test, and collaborate with other professionals on Boeing products. The following year from June 2016 to June 2017 Fletcher was a Design engineer and Stress Analyst Intern at Boeing where she helped with the design process and analysis of the Space Launch System for NASA.

Fletcher was offered a job at Boeing as a Structural analysisEngineer. At Boeing, she is one of the lead engineers and designers working on the Space Launch System for NASA which aims to put humans on Mars. The Space Launch System is the fastest rocket ever created and the largest. The area that Fletcher works on is the exploratory upper stage of the spacecraft which helps the craft complete its ascent phase. She is part of the Engine Section Task Leading team responsible for this, of which she is the youngest member.

Fletcher received the 2017 Good Housekeeping‘s Awesome Woman Award which recognizes women who are impacting the world for the better by overcoming social constraints and influencing the world around them.

Also in 2017, Fletcher received the Albert G. Hill Prize at MIT which recognizes students in their junior or senior year who have excelled academically and impacted the environment at MIT in a way that improves campus climate for other minorities.

In June 2018, Fletcher participated as a keynote speaker at Impact’18 in Krakow – where speakers discuss innovations and business models to share with the world what work they are doing.

On November 8, 2018, Fletcher won the Most Promising Engineer – Industry Award at the 2019 Black Engineer of the Year Awards.

Source: Wikipedia

Nigeria’s Wendy Okolo is the first black woman to bag a doctorate — not honorary — degree in aerospace engineering, anywhere on the planet.

Born to a family of six in southeastern Nigeria, Okolo says her number one heroes are her sisters — Jennifer and Phyllis — who taught her biology, and other sciences with their day-to-day realities.

Okolo received her B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2010 and 2015 respectively.

During her undergraduate years, she was in the African Student Society at the University of Texas at Arlington. She was also the president of the society of women engineers in the university.

Okolo’s career has taken flight at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. agency responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

She was only 26 years old when she became the first black woman to obtain a PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington.


During her undergraduate studies, she interned for two summers with Lockheed Martin working on NASA’s Orion spacecraft, first in the requirements management office in systems engineering and then with the Hatch Mechanisms team in mechanical engineering.

As a graduate student, she worked as a summer researcher from 2010 to 2012 in the Control Design & Analysis Branch at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

She worked with the team that flew the world fastest manned aircraft, which flew from coast to coast in 67 minutes — this normally takes over five hours for some of the fastest jets around.

Okolo said she had to battle impostor’s syndrome when she found out she would be working with such a great team.

“I was like I am sure these guys are so smart, what am I going to bring in,” she said. She went on an error in the code in the systems and she fixed that and “that fixed the impostor syndrome for a while”.

Now, Okolo is an aerospace research engineer at the Ames Research Center, a major NASA research centre in California’s Silicon Valley.


In 2019, she won the BEYA Global Competitiveness Conference award for the most promising engineer in the United States government.



Credit: Nairaland