Engineering Alumna Soars: From Failing High School Math to Building Blue Origin Rockets



Engineering alumna Sharon Pak went from failing highschool math to turning into a rocket engineer at Blue Origin, a business house firm.

“My present profession path genuinely by no means crossed my thoughts as one thing I might do,” Pak mentioned.

At Cal State Fullerton, Pak overcame her math struggles with the assistance of college mentors and defied the unattainable. She graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s diploma in mechanical engineering.

“I’m residing proof that you just don’t must be naturally good at math to develop into an engineer,” she mentioned.

In 2022, Pak landed a job as a producing engineer at Blue Origin. She works on the ignition system for the reusable BE-4 rocket engine. The ignition system creates the spark that lights the engine and sends the rocket into house. The combustion engine will energy the following technology of American orbital rockets.

“As a producing engineer, I write the directions to construct and take a look at the engine. It’s an excellent enjoyable job. I really like working with completely different Blue Origin groups all around the nation,” mentioned Pak, who works on the firm’s headquarters in Kent, Washington, close to Seattle.

Pak mentioned the BE-4 rocket engine is essentially the most highly effective liquified pure gasoline rocket engine ever developed.

“This engine will energy the New Glenn rocket, which would be the workhorse the place folks and heavy industries are moved into house to protect Earth — humanity’s blue origin.” 

A BE-4 engine nighttime hotfire take a look at at Blue Origin’s services in West Texas. Credit score: Blue Origin

Greater than her success at Blue Origin, Pak evokes next-generation engineers, together with girls within the male-dominated engineering area. 

“As an Asian American feminine engineer, I hope that my story offers others hope and propels different girls into profitable careers in tech,” she mentioned. “You will have a singular alternative to create new applied sciences that may enhance humanity and alter how folks go about their on a regular basis lives.”

Pak has greater than 7,000 followers on her Instagram and hosts a podcast each different Thursday referred to as “Tech Exploited.” 

She began the podcast in July and invitations buddies and colleagues to present private insights and share tales about their engineering jobs at firms like Amazon, Tesla, Microsoft and Boeing to assist others develop into profitable engineers. 

Podcast visitors share their triumphs, challenges and helpful classes realized of their school and profession journeys. Episodes embrace the “Highway to Turning into a Software program Engineer at Microsoft,” “Group Faculty to Tesla Supervisor” and “An Amazon Recruiter’s Hiring Secrets and techniques.”

“Listeners get unique inside scoops about hiring practices, work tradition and profession recommendation from engineers in all walks of life who’re working on the most prestigious tech firms on this planet,” she mentioned. 

Launching a Profession within the House Trade

Pak, whose father is a pharmacist and mom is a lecturer in CSUF’s Division of Fashionable Languages and Literatures, had by no means dreamed of working within the house trade.

sharon pak-1 with New Glenn Rocket image
Sharon Pak stands subsequent to a picture of Blue Origin’s New Glenn reusable rocket, which shall be powered by BE-4 engines. Credit score: Picture courtesy of Sharon Pak

In highschool, Pak landed a summer time internship at Boeing, the place she was launched to the house trade and the way rockets are constructed. Her Boeing mentor was a part of the enduring house shuttle missions and impressed her fascination with house and pursuit of an engineering profession.

After graduating from CSUF, she labored at a protection firm as a part of their worker rotational program and had the chance to work at completely different workplace areas throughout the nation. She labored on protection initiatives involving robotics, F-35 fighter planes and Apache assault helicopters.

As a CSUF scholar, Pak gained management experiences by serving as vice chairman of the Faculty of Engineering and Laptop Science’s Inter-Membership Council and was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, Theta Phi Chapter. She labored as a campus tour information, turned concerned in trade networking occasions, and realized from friends and her professors the way to put together for a profession as an engineer. 

Roberto Soto, affiliate professor of arithmetic, guided her in calculus programs, and Sagil James, affiliate professor of mechanical engineering, mentored her in real-world analysis experiences.

“Dr. Soto was the one math trainer I’ve ever had the place I felt like math made sense for the primary time,” she mentioned. “Dr. James was my senior design adviser and helped me put together for a profitable profession by gaining relevant trade expertise to increase my community.”

Whereas Blue Origin was based with a imaginative and prescient of hundreds of thousands of individuals residing and dealing in house for the good thing about Earth, Pak is simply positive, for now, staying placed on this planet. 

“On this new age of house exploration, I like being on the bottom ground of the expertise to create space journey accessible to the common particular person,” she mentioned. “It’s an thrilling time to work on this trade as a result of we’re on the forefront of constructing historical past.”

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