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Northeastern’s aerospace program in Seattle takes off, includes dozens of industry site visits

Lecturer Bruce Marmont, a flight instructor and former Boeing employee, teaches Introduction to Flight at Northeastern’s Seattle Campus. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

SEATTLEEthan Edelstein, a third-year mechanical engineering student at Northeastern, has had a fascination with outer space ever since he was young. Naturally, he took that curiosity with him to college.

“I always wanted to go into aerospace even before college,” Edelstein says. 

Edelstein is one of several dozen engineering students who signed up for a new Northeastern summer residency program cooked up on the university’s Seattle campus. The eight-week residency is a core part of a novel aerospace minor in the College of Engineering that launched in the fall of 2021.

Edelstein says the aerospace program is rigorous with “a lot of high-level course work.” The Seattle-based residency, designed in collaboration by the College of Engineering, the Global Experience Office, and the Seattle campus, offers a mix of introductory classes and co-curricular, aerospace-themed trips to various industry sites, such as the Museum of Flight and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, among others.

Lecturer Bruce Marmont, a flight instructor and former Boeing employee, teaches “Introduction to Flight” at Northeastern’s Seattle campus. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

These site visits are a selling point for students interested in exploring some of Seattle’s engineering and tech destinations, making contact with industry while they decide on whether to take on the minor, Rochelle Rapaszky, assistant director of mobility programs based in Seattle, says. The Pacific Northwestern city is a major tech hub, where giants such as Amazon and Microsoft have set up home bases and attracted countless aspiring entrepreneurs and graduates eager to work for some of the world’s most innovative companies.

It’s also the city where Boeing was founded, essentially launching the aerospace industry. For the last decade or so, Seattle has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the country—and Northeastern has positioned itself in the region to help fill an ever-expanding workforce pipeline of tech jobs.  

That’s why a cadre of Northeastern students from the Boston campus flew across the country to go hands-on with industry professionals during the summer residency. True to Northeastern’s experiential learning model, the site visits give students the ability to directly connect what they learn in the classroom with ongoing, real-world advancements.

And, Rapaszky says, the effort to establish relationships with the Seattle-based aerospace sector has helped to expand Northeastern’s profile of regional partners at a time when it continues to look to grow its presence on the West Coast.   

“In five years, if this turned into a year-long program, that would be great,” Rapaszky says of the aerospace residency. 

Jaidah Morales, a third-year mechanical engineering student, says the residency has been a great way to explore different engineering topics—and to hear from numerous practitioners in the field. 

“Knowing that I don’t have to be on that required path, that I don’t have to necessarily take engineering the way it’s given to me—it’s just really interesting to find out from all these different speakers,” she says. 

Bruce Mamont, a lecturer in the College of Engineering, who teaches “Introduction to Flight,” says his students are a diverse group. Most are mechanical engineering majors who, he says, will be vying for private sector work. Others are there because they’re intellectually curious.

“That makes it a little more interesting for me, because that was my ambition as an undergraduate,” says Mamont, who teaches—as part of the course—topics on aerodynamics, aircraft performance, structures, propulsion and control theory.  

So far, only several students partaking in the residency have declared the aerospace minor. One of those students is Shaked Lotem, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, who jumped at the opportunity to enroll. 

“I switched my schedule around to make sure I could fit this in,” he says. “Being able both to see the different guest lectures that they bring in and also all of the excursions that we’ve been going on … is a big part of the experience.”

Northeastern students in the aerospace residency visited the Museum of Flight and Amazon's Blue Origin in Seattle, Washington. Photos Courtesy of Gina Copping

Living in Cornish Commons, a five-minute walk from Northeastern’s growing campus, Lotem says he also enjoys just “being in Seattle—a very young, modern city.”

“It’s great to just go and wander and see everything,” he says. 

But Lotem is not only content to explore Seattle. It would be a dream, Lotem says, to work for NASA or SpaceX, ultimately so that he can contribute to humanity’s exploration and colonization of the moon, Mars and beyond. 

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