MIT Senior Tiera Guinn is Handling School and Working for NASA Like it’s No Big Deal

Tiera Guinn
Tiera Guinn

Tiera Guinn hasn’t graduated college yet but she’s already working for NASA.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology senior has worked as a rocket structural design and analysis engineer for the space agency since June 2016. She designs rocket components for ventures to Mars and other deep space destination, and analyzes them to ensure they won’t break during flight.

She’s living out a dream she’s had since she was 11 years old. Guinn remembers seeing a plane and wanting to know how to build one.

“I’d had a passion to become a mathematician, inventor — everything you can think of under STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), but when I looked at the plane, I wanted to do that,” Guinn tells USA TODAY College. “I got stuck on that.”

That interest sparked her desire to study aerospace engineering, which led to her work with NASA.

After a Boeing representative visited MIT in 2016, Guinn accepted her dream job with company working on NASA projects. She works with the structural analysis and design team at Boeing’s Huntsville, Ala. location on school breaks and puts in about 20 hours a week working remotely from campus — all while maintaining a semester’s load of classes.

“I’ve seen the design (for the rocket) come into fruition somewhat so far,” says Guinn, 22. “I love looking at something I’m designing and realizing it will be built.”

Guinn’s success doesn’t surprise her mentor Orren Williams, who taught her high school engineering classes.

“She’s fulfilling her dream, but it wasn’t handed to her — she has worked every step of the way,” Williams says. “She was one of those students who made me get up in morning looking forward to go to class.”

Guinn says her drive comes from the significance of her work.

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USA Today College