• Brooke Owens Fellow, Class of 2018

  • Florida Polytechnic University, Mechanical Engineering, '19

  • Host Institution: Generation Orbit

  • Mentor: Nick Skytland

Payton Barnwell will receive her B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Florida Polytechnic University in May of 2019, making her a member of their second graduating class ever. Throughout her time at Florida Poly, Payton worked to share her passion for space exploration through research, clubs, and events for her classmates and surrounding community members.

During her freshman year, Payton founded Florida Poly’s first space interest club, ASTRO, and worked on a NASA Florida Space Research Program grant relating to space radiation resistance. In her sophomore year, she worked as executive director of the educational exploration program, Splash at Poly, which brought 300+ high school students on campus for classes taught by college students and shared her cosmic love with the greater Tampa area as a NASA Solar System Ambassador. The summer of 2017 brought much excitement with an internship at NASA Kennedy Space Center where she researched optimal LED light “recipes” for plants grown aboard the International Space Station and volunteered with the Astronaut Memorial Foundation for a “Life in Space” outreach session. In 2018, Payton was named a Brooke Owens Fellow. Throughout her final undergraduate year, Payton co-founded SEDS at Florida Poly, became materials synthesis lead for research relating to landfill leachate cleanup, and organized an independent study course focused on producing educational materials that bring the humanities back into STEM for a thoughtful & well-rounded design approach for students.

As a #Brookie, Payton worked on producing a nationwide university hypersonic research program for the X-60A at Generation Orbit in Atlanta, GA. Although it is quite hard to narrow it down, her favorite fellowship experience would have to be brainstorming with her Brookie sisters on ways to *make space for everyone* into the early morning at the annual summit in DC.