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UCF awards 400,000 degrees.University of Central Florida News

as long as she remembers Laura Segara ’22 I have always been drawn to space, science and mathematics. She still has an elementary school textbook with colorful illustrations of the universe. She laughs that she almost caught fire in her kitchen during her combustion experiment. And she vividly remembers being on her grandmother’s farm in upstate New York to catch a glimpse of Halley’s Comet and see the Milky Way.

In elementary school she did math puzzles for fun. During her high school days, she tinkered with her own cars and her interest in how they worked. Then one day, at the urging of a friend of hers, she attended She Upward Bound, a federally funded educational program (now known as her TRiO) held at Wilkes College. did. Within a few years, Segara earned her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, then Embry earned her MBA in aeronautics from Riddle Aeronautical University and embarked on the career of space exploration she had envisioned. I was.

Last week, Segarra, a first-generation student, passed the initiation stage for a PhD in industrial engineering, while earning 400,000th UCF has been awarding degrees since classes began in 1968. The total degrees awarded include over 63,000 master’s degrees and over 7,000 Ph.D.

Like Segarra, about 78,000 degrees have been in the STEM field. 75,000 in business. He educated 50,000 people. In engineering, computer science and optics he has 48,000. 47,000 in the medical profession, including nursing.

The number and variety of degrees awarded unlocks potential by advancing careers in key industries throughout Central Florida and the state, driving economic growth and earning billions of dollars in salaries to inject into the economy. , the innovative and creative works that drive the broader prosperity of our regions and states.

“I am very honored,” says Segarra. “To me, this represents a continuously growing opportunity for all women engineers now and in the future. Thanks to UCF and its commitment to diversity, inclusion and partnerships with universities and industry. , the ability to achieve personal and professional dreams and goals through education is attainable to all who have the ambition and determination to do so.”

Laura Segara ’22 at Kennedy Space Center. (Photo credit: Laura Segarra)

Segarra began his career at Kennedy Space Center in 2001, working as an engineer for United Space Alliance, the prime contractor for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. There he was responsible for the preparation of the Orbiter’s airframe structure and ensured that the structural and interface subsystems his components were maintained and prepared for manned spaceflight missions. It was a hands-on, highly detailed job that included repairs and modifications to the spacecraft.

“I’ve seen almost every corner of the Orbiter,” Segarra says.

Two years later, when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts on board, Segara sought help in determining the root cause of the accident. You have been asked to join the investigation team. She spent months verifying the integrity of all structural repairs and modifications made to the spacecraft and identifying, cataloging and mapping her over 82,000 pounds of recovered wreckage. . The team will continue to recommend and implement a series of corrective actions to return the remaining Space Her shuttles to flight. The tragedy “helped us understand why assessing technical safety risks is so important,” she says.

This experience also prepares him for future roles at NASA, including managing the integrated build and launch readiness activities for the Ares IX test flight, and managing ground handling and recovery operations, including as NASA vehicle manager for the space shuttle Atlantis. I can. NASA’s last shuttle took off into space.

Segarra’s years of experience in systems engineering and operations later evolved into a coveted program management role in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Over the past decade, she has worked with multiple American companies to accomplish the first commercial manned spaceflight to the International Space Station, returning the United States with the ability to transport humans to and from low Earth orbit. From the outset, Segarra worked with her CCP to first establish the program’s organizational structure and strategic goals, then work closely with commercial providers to gain access to space and ensure operational safety, reliability, and reliability. Played a key role in building partnerships to ensure cost effectiveness. Her sixth manned mission to the International Space Station is scheduled for her September 2022.

“During my time at UCF, I found a supportive faculty village that taught me how to think critically and conduct solid scientific research that will undoubtedly advance the field of program management.” — Laura Segara ’22

Segarra was awarded a KSC Graduate Fellowship and started as a PhD candidate at UCF. College is her first-choice school because of the flexibility she needs to continue fulfilling her professional responsibilities, and her brother and her sister-in-law are alumni.

“I thought it was a great school,” says Segarra. “During my time at UCF, I found a supportive faculty village that taught me how to think critically and conduct solid scientific research that would undoubtedly advance the field of program management. I have benefited from working with a panel of knowledgeable experts in technology program management across industries. to my work at NASA and look forward to future collaborations that advance both theoretical and practical knowledge in this important area.”

The ties between UCF and NASA are deep. Located just 80 km from KSC, the university was created to support the needs of the space program. About 30% of KSC’s employees are alumni. The student completes an internship in his NASA Pathways program. UCF faculty also collaborate with NASA on research ranging from exploring new regions of the Moon to designing electrified “power suits” for electric vehicles and spacecraft.

“NASA and Kennedy Space Center benefit from the strong relationship we have built with UCF over the years. This ongoing partnership will build a pipeline of early career employees and internship program participants.” UCF has been a great partner in the development of Artemis Generation,” said Mai Miller, NASA Pathways Program Coordinator.

Kelvin Manning ’02MS, Deputy Director of KSC and was one of the Commencement Speakers for Summer 2022. “You are a graduate of the University of Central Florida, an institution rooted in our nation’s space program, established to provide a talented workforce to meet the challenges of space exploration,” Manning said. increase. “Space has always brought hope to millions and promised a better tomorrow. We continue to provide a talented workforce in many capacities to serve the whole world.”

For Segara, he is pursuing a Ph.D. It was an opportunity for her to fill in the gaps in her knowledge in her field. Her dissertation examined project and program management in the public engineering aerospace industry, evaluating the systems and practices in place at the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Defense (DoD), and her NASA. The Department of Defense has already incorporated findings from her research into several of her training programs and practices.

“Whatever I’m doing needs to have an impact for the better,” says Segarra, who is considering teaching later in her career.