New fellowship will honor youthful trailblazer

The Brooke Owens Fellowship

Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin and Scaled Composite are a few of the companies inviting female college undergraduates planning to pursue aviation or space careers to apply for the new Brooke Owens Fellowship, which offers students paid summer internships plus travel stipends and assigned mentors.

The fellows, who will work on-site at an aviation or space-related business for 10 to 12 weeks, will be assigned two mentors. One will be a senior person within the company where they work. The other will be someone outside the company. The list of outside mentors includes: Lori Garver, a former NASA deputy administrator and now general manager of the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA); Cassie Lee, Vulcan Aerospace’s director of aerospace applications; Diana Trujillo, mission lead and deputy chief of engineering operations for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory; and Will Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic vice president for special projects.

Brooke Owens Fellowship applications are available online at Applications are due by Dec. 5 and women accepted will be notified by the end of January. According to the website, all applications will be narrowed to about 60 finalists, from which 19 fellows will be chosen.

With a single application, students can apply for internships at all the companies. On the application, students will rank their employer preferences, which will be one of the criteria used to match them with internships.

“Applicants can come from a wide range of academic or professional disciplines: engineering, science, aeronautics and pilot training, law and policy, business, non-profit management, history, art, or anything else. However, successful applicants must be able to draw a convincing connection between their chosen field(s) and aviation or space exploration,” according to the website.

The list of participating businesses, which continues to grow, includes ALPA, Arianespace, Ball Aerospace, Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Seattle’s Museum of Flight, Planetary Resources, Sierra Nevada Corp., Space Systems Loral, Planet, and the Mojave Air & Space Port. Other prospective employers are the technology news site GeekWire, the Moak Group, a marketing, advocacy and consulting firm, and Tauri Group, an analytic consulting firm.

Aerospace executives established the fellowship in memory of Dawn Brooke Owens, who died of cancer in June at the age of 35. Owens, a certified pilot, worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the nonprofit XPrize Foundation, the White House Office of Management and Budget and the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. She attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the International Space University.

“She was intelligent, professional, kind and warm-hearted,” says Pomerantz, who announced plans for the fellowship Sept. 13 at AIAA Space 2016. “Her friends were looking for a way to honor her, while growing and training a generation of future Brookes.”

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Owens’ resume is filled with activities and hobbies ranging from reciting spoken word poetry to competing in triathlons. Owens also devoted her time to charitable organizations fighting poverty, seeking to end human trafficking and assisting children whose parents died of HIV/AIDS.

“She was fearless and open to trying everything,” Pomerantz says. “While the rest of us might say, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I ever did this.’ She found a way to do it.” ★

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The late Brooke Owens in one of her favorite places, the cockpit. Credit:

New fellowship will honor youthful trailblazer