Ciarra Ortiz represents AeroAstro at the National Society of Black Engineers 50th Annual Convention

Categories: Graduate Students

PhD student Ciarra Ortiz (Aerospace Physiology Lab) traveled to the National Society of Black Engineers 50th Annual Convention, representing both MIT AeroAstro and the Patti Grace Smith (PGS) Fellowship

Ortiz was a member of the Georgia Tech Society of Black Engineers during her undergraduate career, and became involved with the NSBE after meeting a mentor who previously served as the deputy director of NSBE Aerospace.

Ortiz, an inaugural PGS fellowship award winner in 2021, also spoke in a panel discussion titled “So, you want a career in space? How to enter the aerospace sector in undergrad and postgrad” to share how the fellowship became a stepping stone towards a profession in bioastronautics within the aerospace industry. 

“If you want to enter the aerospace sector, you need to be persistent and look beyond the classroom to understand your passion and place in aerospace,” Ortiz says. “The path is winding and sometimes unconventional, but the love and admiration for astronauts, planes, rockets, or cubesats is what fuels our determination to trailblaze a path in aerospace. Mentorship, academics, and perseverance are key for making strides towards earning a career in the aerospace sector.”

Her best advice for up and coming aerospace engineers is to fight the imposter syndrome that comes with the competitive environment. “Imposter syndrome is real, but keep your head held high because you have earned the place you are at and you will continue to rise above the rest.”

Through NSBE, Ortiz learned the importance of making community connections in the aerospace field. “NSBE has helped me shape my future and I hope that it helps others do the same,” says Ortiz. “I’m grateful to MIT AeroAstro and our Diversity Officer, Ms. Denise Phillips, for allowing me the opportunity to attend.” Ruth Davis (Space Propulsion Lab) also attended the conference.

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States. NSBE, founded in 1975, supports and promotes the aspirations of collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology.