blank spacer gif Personal Statement
Calina C. Seybold
University of Texas at Austin

Space exploration and its consequences--both expected and unexpected-have a nearly universal appeal. My personal fascination with the potentials and possibilities led me into mission design and the study of interplanetary trajectories. In the last year, I have successfully passed all of the written and oral exams necessary to formally enter the doctoral program at lhe University of Texas at Austin. I was also selected to be an Associate Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Astrodynamics Technical Committee. My research, still in the preliminary stages, is being supervised in part by Dr. Johnny Kwok of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). I am pursuing the possibility of using semianalytic satellite theory and double averaging methods to increase the precision and accuracy of long term orbit prediction software that JPL personnel use. Concurrently, I am a technical advisor for and the primary author of two professional papers on the Texas Interdisciplinary Student Mission Design Project. The papers are being presented in the Spring 1996 semester.

Although my doctoral research emphasizes orbit prediction, my thesis favored interplanetary mission design (I examined the feasibility of using the lunar surface as a launching point for unmanned resupply missions.), and my orbital mechanics projects have actually been fairly evenly divided between theory and design. While an undergraduate, I was trajectory group leader hr a Universities Space Research Association (USRA) project for a Mars mission using hypersonic waveriders. I was a contributor and one of two primary editors for the 208 page final report, Terrapin Technologies Manned Mars Mission, which was published by NASA (accession no. N90 26027). In my graduate work, I have been involved in two separate studies on the restricted problem of three bodies-one on the Pythagorean triangular case (I was the group leader.) and the other on the equilateral triangular case (I was group leader and also wrote the final report.)

To ensure that space exploration continues--and even expands in in scope-- the future, today's K-12 students must be persuaded to mapr in technical fields when they reach college so that there will be enough trained professionals to meet the demand. Unfortunately, too many of these students avoid or perform poorly in their math and science classes, leaving them virtually ineligible to major in a science or engineering program when they become undergraduates. One reason these important classes are neglected is because many students do not see the relationship between the spectacular accomplishments in outer space and their relatively dry textbooks. As an outreach coordinator, every project I work on shows this relationship in some way to try to improve student retention in math and science subjects.

Because my assistantship is not directly related to my research, I have to constantly strive to maintain an appropriate balance between academics, research, and public service projects in my schedule. Each of these three areas is equally important to me. The coursework broadens my knowledge base so that one day I will have the right background to fully participate in an exploratory mission. Research gives me a way to apply the concepts I have learned in a hands-on environment. Finally, the public service projects give me the opportunity to pass along the knowledge l have already acquired with the hope that my experiences will encourage a younger student to choose engineering as a career field.


Wednesday, 26-Mar-2003 22:11:45 CST