A rocket wouldn’t be a rocket if it wasn’t for the first thing that catches your eye from this human miracle. The rocket’s body, fins, and nose cone leave you in awe and makes you wonder at its marvelous power once it takes off for flight. Behind the scenes of building this technology is the lead for structures (at least for the Beach Launch Team): Jessie Flanders.
Jessie is an aerospace engineering major who always knew she wanted to be an engineer due to her love in numbers she discovered in grade school. After a high school teacher encouraged her to apply to colleges under an engineering major, Jessie could not decide which one. “When it came to apply to universities, I applied to different engineering majors.” She ended up choosing to come to California State University, Long Beach with aerospace engineering. Coming to CSULB was a gambling goal for Jessie. She was exposing herself outside of her comfort zone to a field that was not only male dominated but an area she has never experienced before. “When I first came, I ended up loving it and got lucky to have made the right choice.”
Not everyone would have been able to take the risk Jessie did. People talk about “biting the bullet” and investing in a future blindly without being weighed down by fears of failure. That is what makes Jessie an admirable lead. Her courage is key in developing the structures of rockets that lay the foundation for optimal flight performance. When describing her responsibilities regarding her position she mentions, “As structures lead, I make sure the structure is compatible with all other subsystems and make sure its safe to fly.” As if that does not seem enough responsibility, Jessie is also the business development director for the team.
Her first introduction to the Beach Launch Team came during the summer of her freshmen year of college during a lab tour of the school. That same day she met some leads for the team. When she came home, she eagerly told her mom, “Mom I am joining BLT club!” Humors enough, Jessie was a part of a sandwich club in high school. Jessie admits when she informed her mom, she will be joining the BLT team, her mom firmly believed it stood for “Bacon Lettuce Tomato club,” the opposite of a liquid propulsion team. Luckily for everyone’s interest, this was not the case. Although if you were to ask me, the idea of a bacon lettuce tomato club does pique my interest. Subways anyone?
Its important to note that Jessie is only her sophomore year of college. She rose through the ranks quickly after she joined. First as a member, then as a structure’s assistant, and finally Lead of a subsystem and head of business. This of course was not an easy feat. As I asked her to describe the challenges, she has faced in the club she was honest of what she has learned. “Communication within everyone is not easy. We are a diverse team that come from various unique backgrounds. Many times, people tend to be in competition with each other, but its important to remember we are here to lift one another up.” I could not agree with Jessie more. Currently, the team has seven different subsystems, each a department filled with their own leads and assistants who are experts in their fields in their own right: miscommunication is inevitable. How a team handles miscommunication is what separates an average team to a successful one. Jessie explained that she believes BLT in its core is a family. A family where she has made some of the most fulfilling connections in her college career.
Her personal goal for the club is to continue to grow her leadership skills. She admits she was “quite shy” when she first joined the club, but her experience with BLT has helped her develop the confidence needed to become a good engineer. From talking to her family back home about her experience, it has influenced her younger sister where she knows wants to pursue engineering when she attends college. To her the pink rocket is a way to get more girls involved into STEM fields not only by talking about support but by displaying an engineering marvel in dedication to them. She wants younger girls to know they are supported to pursue passions in a male dominated industry and understand they can succeed.
From having this interview from jessie who can tell off the bat that she has a fun spunky personality. A character anyone can easily get along with. In a stressful environment that rocket science tends to be, it is a nice break. The future fore her in the club looks bright. The future for her career even more. Still unsure on what she was to narrow down and focus on in her professional career, I am sure she will kick some rocket fuel dust on. No doubt.