Leah Nolan first UB student to be named a Brooke Owens Fellow

Leah Nolan.

by Nicole Capozziello

Published February 8, 2019

Leah Nolan has been named a 2019 Brooke Owens Fellow, a prestigious award that recognizes and supports extraordinary undergraduate women in the aerospace field.

"Leah is an extremely well-rounded and hard-working individual who has a bright future ahead of her. Beyond her exceptional technical engineering skills, she has left an enduring mark with her engaging, open personality, as well as her outstanding leadership skills."
John Crassidis, director of the UB Nanosat Laboratory and Samuel Capen Chair Professor
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Known as “Brookies,” the 38 winners were chosen for their professional aptitude, creativity, leadership ability and commitment to serving their communities. This year’s pool was the most competitive to date, with applicants from over 125 universities in 13 countries, making the program’s acceptance rate on par with top universities in the world.

As part of the program, Nolan will participate in a 12-week summer internship at Rocket Lab in Huntington Beach, Calif. as part of their Mission Management team.

Nolan is the first UB student to be honored with the distinction of the Brooke Owens Fellowship.

”Growing up, I was interested in a variety of STEM fields,” says Nolan, a junior in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering who hails from Elma, N.Y. “I decided on engineering after attending the UB/National Grid Engineering Camp when I was in high school.”

During her freshman year, Nolan joined the University at Buffalo Nanosatellite Laboratory (UBNL), where she uncovered her passion for space exploration. She has served as a Structural Engineer and Training Manager at UBNL, and recently stepped into the role of Program Manager of the LinkSat Mission, a 3U nanosatellite with an anticipated launch date of 2020.

"Leah is an extremely well-rounded and hard-working individual who has a bright future ahead of her. Beyond her exceptional technical engineering skills, she has left an enduring mark with her engaging, open personality, as well as her outstanding leadership skills," said John Crassidis, Samuel Capen Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Director of the UBNL.

"Leah was among a group of highly motivated students who participated in the inaugural Space Mission Design class, where we had a unique opportunity to work closely with NASA JPL scientists on real-world problems related to future space explorations. Leah went beyond the standard class requirements to show her engineering skills and dedication to space research, which likely led to her being awarded the highly competitive Brooke Owens Fellowship," added Javid Bayandor, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

During the spring of 2018, Nolan held an internship at Buffalo’s 3AM Innovations, where she worked to develop an Indoor Positioning System for firefighters.

Nolan is also the secretary of the UB Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, and off campus, is a volunteer firefighter for the Jamison Road Volunteer Fire Company.

The Brooke Owens Fellowship was founded by three aerospace professionals to honor their friend D. Brooke Owens, a space industry pioneer and accomplished pilot who died in 2016 after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Since 2017, the annual fellowship has sought to strengthen and diversify the aerospace industry by matching a cohort of talented women to purpose-driven, paid internships at leading aviation companies and organizations, and pairing them with senior and executive level mentors to sustain support in the industry.

Learn more about the Brooke Owens Fellowship.