Bhavi Jagatia is an Astrodynamics Engineer at Planet, a position she took on after completing a successful internship for the Orbits R&D team. While at Planet, she has made significant improvements to the tasking system for the company’s high-resolution constellation of imaging satellites, SkySats. Bhavi was initially tasked with evaluating the complex schedule for SkySats, identifying areas of improvement and implementing changes to increase the collection capacity of the fleet. Her work resulted in substantial fulfillment enhancements, and she is now the sole owner and developer of the tool for her team. Bhavi received her Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, which she attended on the prestigious Tata scholarship. During her studies at Cornell, she worked with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on a project to investigate the use of flux-pinning on orbiting sample capture for a Mars sample return mission. Bhavi served as avionics lead for the project and participated in a microgravity test aboard a Zero-G flight with the JPL team. She also led Cornell’s project team for NASA’s Micro-G NExT competition while completing her studies and worked in internships at Boeing’s research lab, ASML, and Honda Aircraft Company.
Julie Newman is Program Chief Engineer for Satelit Nusantara Lima N5 (SNL), a major geostationary communications satellite program, at Boeing. In this role, she has been instrumental in overseeing risk management and problem resolution for the satellite, particularly in the midst of a challenging shift to a different payload. Julie regularly directs and approves the work of senior engineering staff and provides recommendations to the program management office and the customer. She has also represented her executive manager in various critical functions, ranging from safety to quality assurance across Boeing’s El Segundo site and has spearheaded multiple process improvement initiatives, including major efforts to improve Boeing’s engineering training and metrics tracking systems. Before taking on her current position, Julie was the Technical Program Manager, a role in which she led a team of 15 engineers to develop the engine controller assembly for the Space Launch System (SLS) first stage rocket. The team consistently exceeded expectations under her leadership while executing a late re-design of the unit to resolve a leakage issue associated with a sneak path discovered during testing of the engineering model.
Onyinye Nwankwo is an accomplished scientist in the field of upper atmospheric and space sciences, currently pursuing her PhD in Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Industrial Physics at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in her home country of Nigeria before obtaining a Master’s degree in Space Geophysics from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in Brazil and a second Master of Science in Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering from the University of Michigan. During her undergraduate studies, Onyinye served as an industrial trainee “Radio Signal Officer” at the Nigeria Port Authority in Lagos State, where her skills in maintaining radio signals and signal processing were key to ensuring efficient communication and navigation services. She went on to become a Scientific Officer with the Center for Atmospheric Research, National Space Research and Development Agency (CAR-NASRDA) in Anyibga, Kogi State, Nigeria, where she showcased her expertise in data processing, management and the operation of cutting-edge imaging technology. In this role, Onyinye provided key raw data handling for the All-Sky Airglow Imager and Fabry Perot Interferometer and made significant contributions to the understanding of atmospheric phenomena, which also bolstered Nigeria’s stature in space and atmospheric research.
2023 Mentor of the Year
Debra Facktor, Head of U.S. Space Systems, Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc. Throughout her more than 30 years in the space industry, Debra Facktor has served as a mentor and guide for more than 25 interns and young leaders beginning their careers and countless more leaders as they continue their professional journeys. Of note, she provided vital advice and support to Gary Lai, who went on to become the Chief Architect at Blue Origin, when he was an intern and young engineer starting out at Kistler Aerospace. Debra founded the Women in Aerospace (WIA) Foundation in 2009 – which has provided scholarships to 35 women pursuing higher education degrees in aerospace fields over the past 13 years – and served as a mentor to the inaugural recipient, Dr. Whitney Lohmeyer, whom she still mentors today. She is a sought-after speaker for panels, business deals and general industry advice due to her powerful combination of enthusiasm, energy and sharp business acumen. Debra has an impressive ability to connect with people and recall details about their lives and professional history, and she knows someone at every event she attends.