Piper Sigrest.jpg


  • Brooke Owens Fellow, Class of 2017
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, AeroAstro, ‘18
  • Host Institution: Virgin Orbit
  • Mentor: Indra Hornsby

Piper Sigrest is a senior at MIT studying AeroAstro with a minor in Russian and Eurasian Studies. Piper grew up in a household filled with pilots and space enthusiasts. On her 17th birthday, she earned her private pilot license and became her family’s third generation pilot and first aviatrix. In high school, several life-changing opportunities introduced Piper to the wonder and beauty of space: watching the final launch of Atlantis in 2011, talking with astronauts at the 2012 State of STEM Address in D.C., attending Space Camp, and competing in the 2012 International Space Olympics in Korolev, Russia. Piper learned that her love of flight encompassed both atmospheric and space flight. 

Outside of classes, Piper is member of the MIT Rocket Team. She has served as recovery subteam lead and ground support equipment subteam lead, and is now working on the structures subteam. Piper also loves sharing her excitement for space with others. She volunteers at outreach events with the Rocket Team and has taught abroad in Russia and Kazakhstan through MIT’s Global Teaching Lab program. When she isn’t building rockets or admiring aircraft, Piper loves crocheting, solving Sudoku puzzles, and listening to musicals. During her undergraduate years, Piper has interned at NASA Langley, Aurora Flight Sciences, and SpaceX.

As a Brooke Owens Fellow, Piper worked at Virgin Orbit as a second stage structures team member, conducting extensive testing of composite coupons. Piper designed several test fixtures and components, and produced prototype parts during her internship. 

Piper aspires to promote and normalize human space exploration as both an engineer and an astronaut in the future. She is currently applying to graduate schools to pursuing structures and materials research. This summer, Piper will work at Blue Origin.