• Brooke Owens Fellow, Class of 2018
  • University of Southern California, Mechanical Engineering, '19
  • Host Institution: Blue Origin
  • Mentor: Dan Hart

Maddie Koldos is junior studying Mechanical Engineering at University of Southern California. Her path to engineering started when attending a magnet program for STEM at her high school and participating in VEX Robotics. However, she never saw herself being able to afford the cost of college, until becoming a QuestBridge scholar her senior year. She received generous financial aid from USC and was able to attend.
Currently, Maddie is the Lead Engineer of Data Acquisition for USC’s Rocket Propulsion Laboratory, responsible for gathering temperature, thrust, and pressure profiles at their static fires. This helps them characterize their vehicle performance and get ready to complete their mission of being the first entirely student-run group to send a rocket to space.

She also works as a research assistant in the Combustion Physics Laboratory at USC on a joint project with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Planetary Protection office. Their project is focused on determining whether reentry temperatures are suitable enough to inactivate bacterial spores on spacecraft components, in order to avoid costly sterilization procedures. She works on running spore heating tests, updating the apparatus, and has implemented a non-contact temperature measurement, closed-loop control system. 

Part-time, she works at the California Science Center, performing presentations and experiments to the public in front of the Space Shuttle Endeavor regarding its components, orbital mechanics, and space environment. She loves teaching and getting the next generation as excited about space as she is! 

Last summer, she worked at JPL on their Mars 2020 Rover Chassis Team. Her project was focused on determining B-basis yield stresses for flight components at the extreme temperatures they would experience on the Mars surface and in flight. These values were used to perform simulations on current part assemblies to see if they would break with the given loadings, particularly in-flight g-force.

As a Brooke Owens Fellow, Maddie will work at Blue Origin.