This week’s Industry Person of the Week is Caeley Looney. Caeley is a Mission Analyst at L3Harris Technologies and Founder & Editor in Chief at Reinvented Magazine.
Q: How did you get started working in your field?
Caeley: I think I was really lucky growing up because I was exposed to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) at such a young age. My mom was an engineer, she designed the plumbing systems for large aircraft carriers for the Navy, so my house was filled with schematics of projects she worked on. I had all this inspiration to go into STEM right at my fingertips, and I wanted to be a fashion designer. However, if you saw what my outfits of choice were back then, you’d probably do the same thing my mom did, which was drag me to a FIRST robotics meeting once I started middle school.
She encouraged me to just take a chance, but I ended up falling completely in love with engineering and technology. It blew my mind that I could build robots and I could use my computer to program them to do whatever I wanted. It was because of my experiences with my robotics team that I wanted to see more of what I could do with STEM and that’s how I stumbled on my love for space.
I ended up getting my B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and during my undergraduate studies I was able to intern at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. That’s where I had my first hands on experience with research and attitude dynamics, which is a huge part of my job now!
Q: What do you love most about your job? What are you most proud of?
Caeley: My absolute favorite part about my job is that every single day is different. As a Mission Analyst we have to understand every single part of the mission and the spacecraft. More importantly, we have to understand and communicate how all of that works together. So some days I’m running code or analyzing potential changes to the spacecraft and how those changes would affect other subsystems or the mission as a whole. And then other days I get to be creative and put some art skills to work. A huge part of my job is being able to communicate all of this to our program managers, other technical leads, and our customers, so I spend a lot of time making videos, designing presentations, and creating graphical depictions of what our mission looks like so everyone knows what they can expect once the satellites get launched into space.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering this line of work or new to the field?
Caeley: I think I have at least two shirts that include the line ‘actually it is rocket science’ because that is quite literally what I am. But, as much as I love that phrase and being able to call myself that, the one thing I hate about it is how exclusive it makes the space industry sound. When I tell people that I’m an aerospace engineer, I’m often met with the response, ‘oh, you must be super smart then?’ And, you don’t have to be any kind of a genius to be an engineer or work on things that go to space. I failed physics classes, and I’ve got my fair share of failing exam grades. But, at the end of the day, I was passionate about this field and worked to get myself where I am today. So, my advice is to not let your own doubts get in the way. You don’t need to be a straight A student to be an aerospace engineer. Anyone at NASA would tell you that it just takes curiosity and perseverance.
Q: Can you talk about a project you recently worked on?
Caeley: While all of the projects I’ve worked on at L3Harris are really cool, I think my favorite ‘project’ that I’ve been working on over the past two years is starting Reinvented Inc. Reinvented Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to empower and inspire the next generation of young girls in STEM. We do this primarily through the creation of Reinvented Magazine which is the nation’s first ever print magazine written for girls in STEM for girls in STEM. This magazine highlights female role models in STEM fields, shares their stories, and helps get their inspirational journeys to girls all over the world who need to see that there are women out there doing amazing things with science and technology. The other program we just really started up is our Princesses with Power Tools program, where we get professional women in STEM to dress up like our favorite princesses and show young girls how to use their first power tool!
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
Caeley: One thing about me that I didn’t mention is that I love making and DIY! I’ve been spending my summer (aka ‘Summer of Making’) building some really fun and cool projects like smart mirrors, plant ferris wheels, acoustic levitators, and origami kayaks! I have a ton more planned for the summer and have been highlighting all of them on my Instagram page!
Check out the Reinvented Magazine! Connect with Caeley on social media.
Instagram: @caeleylooney | @reinventedmagazine
Twitter: @cae_looney | @reinventedmag
Facebook: Reinvented Magazine
Website: www.caeleylooney.com | www.reinventedmagazine.com
THANK YOU, CAELEY! WE LOOK FORWARD TO KEEPING UP WITH YOU THROUGH THE #PUMPTALK COMMUNITY!
KNOW AN AMAZING PERSON WHO IS MAKING VALUABLE CONTRIBUTIONS WITHIN INDUSTRY? NOMINATE THEM TO BE AN “INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE WEEK”!