“Lead by Example” With Tyler Gallagher & Evelyn Stein

Space permits endless opportunities of the unknown in exploration, discovery, and technological advancement. I’m looking forward to seeing how changes in the technology become a catalyst in the industry and the knowledge that comes from the expeditions. I’m excited for humans to return to the moon and seeing Mars travel feasible. As a part of […]

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Space permits endless opportunities of the unknown in exploration, discovery, and technological advancement. I’m looking forward to seeing how changes in the technology become a catalyst in the industry and the knowledge that comes from the expeditions. I’m excited for humans to return to the moon and seeing Mars travel feasible.

As a part of my series about “Women Leading The Space Industry”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Evelyn Stein.

Evelyn Stein is the current Lead Systems Engineer for Rocket Crafters, an engine and launch company focused in 3D Printing technology. Having graduated with Bachelor of Science Degree from Florida Institute of Technology located, Stein continued her career with a company located on Florida’s Space Coast.

In May of 2017, Evelyn Stein began her career by participating in the building of a lab-scale test stand. She is a technician for all testing within the Rocket Crafters facility as well as a trained safety officer.

Evelyn is the creator of all documentation regarding system requirements from the initiation to completion of Rocket Crafters Launch Programs. She is currently designing and developing a suborbital launch vehicle to take flight in 2022.

In this interview, Stein shared her enthusiasm for the space industry, her thoughts on women in tech and an important lesson that she learned along the way.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

Igrew up in Livonia, Michigan with my parents and sister and spent a lot of time with my grandparents. My dad was a designer in the automotive industry and my mom worked in the education system. I’ll always appreciate how hard my parents worked. I would go with my mom and spend time at the college bookstore and had the opportunity to help my grandfather at the bakery.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

My grandparents had the illustrated Smithsonian Science Encyclopedia. I remember spending countless hours reading it and then playing teacher with my grandfather. I wanted to learn how things work, which resulted in homemade experiments that didn’t always go as planned. After one particular explosion, my parents designated me my own lab in the basement. This book was the spark that piqued my interest in science.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

“Don’t wait for your ship to come in; swim out and meet it.”

You must create your own opportunities and find ways to achieve your goals. When you have a challenge in front of you, it’s important to accept it, put your mind to it, put the work in, and you can succeed. It reminds me that if I set my mind to something, I can achieve it if I put the work in to get there.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the space industry? We’d love to hear it.

In fourth grade I did this solar system project which started my love for space. When I was in high school my love of space remained, which contributed to me writing a paper on the Challenger and Columbia accidents. While I was writing that paper, I found myself taking the devastation personally. Space access needed to be safer and I wanted to participate in the solution, so these incidents didn’t happen in the future.

I also did a project on the Sky Lab which fascinated me because even though they had to learn a lot of lessons, it was remarkably innovative for its time. Future innovation in the space industry is limitless and I want to dedicate myself to the process.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?

I’m currently with a company named Rocket Crafters, where we are developing new technology and have a strong focus on research and development. Creating new technology is always exciting and I’ve been able to learn things outside of my direct field and participate in the entrepreneurial aspects of company development. I’ve also met some fascinating people.

Last year, I attended the 46th Space Congress where I learned so much about various topics and initiatives in the space industry. During the event, we had the opportunity to work with influencers and industry leaders about potential future ideas and plans for the Space Coast. One of my favorite experiences was being in line for lunch and when I looked around, I was the only person in my group who wasn’t an astronaut. Coolest experience ever!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

After a rocket engine test fire, I was tasked with the disassembly and cleaning of the engine. I forgot to put on gloves and my hands got completely covered in grease. I didn’t even realize until later that it was all over the back of my arms as well. It took hours of scrubbing to get it off. I keep gloves handy now!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I had a core group of friends in college that I always sat with at the library to do homework and study. A couple of us were the same major, but for the most part we were all different majors within STEM. We all helped each other out whether it was quizzing each other when studying for a test, logically thinking through different problems or just keeping each other focused and productive after a long day. Without them, I don’t know how I would have made it through school and to where I am today. The “Library Family” still do dinners and continue to support each other in our careers.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m currently working on the development of a new rocket. The company I work for, Rocket Crafters, makes 3D printed rocket fuel and is focused on developing safer rocket engines and launch vehicles. Rockets can be dangerous, and these designs will make firing and launches go smoother.

Unrelated to work, I spend my free time coaching a USA Swimming Club Team. I coach kids of all ages and hope to pass my passion for the sport and the life lessons I have learned onto the next generation.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The space industry, as it is today, is such an exciting arena.

What are the 3 things that most excite you about the space industry? Can you explain?

Space permits endless opportunities of the unknown in exploration, discovery, and technological advancement. I’m looking forward to seeing how changes in the technology become a catalyst in the industry and the knowledge that comes from the expeditions. I’m excited for humans to return to the moon and seeing Mars travel feasible.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the space industry? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

Continuous development of new technology in space flight comes with inherent safety risks, whether they are manned or unmanned launches. The risk will always exist, but mitigation is the way to address it.

Another concern is the amount of orbital debris that satellites and launches leave behind. The fortunate thing is this has been addressed in policy and decisions are being made to assure that the future of space access is protected.

And, although it is not necessarily a concern, because I’m seeing history unfold before me, I hope that STEM continues to grow as an inclusionary industry. With this change in vantage, it’s important to keep interest in space and support its growth so we don’t experience another decline in space programs.

Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

STEM has come a long way but, we need to continue improving. Starting to introduce STEM in elementary and middle school to get girls interested at a younger age instead of waiting and introducing STEM later in high school. This can start with female led STEM television shows and robotics teams becoming normalized.

Seeing someone you can relate to at a young age can bolster interest. Historical female role models are just now coming to light and being celebrated. As a child, I never heard about the remarkable women of NASA. It’s fantastic to see that we have books and movies about them, and it will continue to inspire women to join a career path in STEM.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in the space industry that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

Typically, I find that when I tell people that I’m an engineer, they are caught off guard. I think that sometimes people don’t relate STEM jobs to women. There are inherent challenges with this. I find that women typically have to prove themselves much more than their male counterparts.

As women continue to grow in leadership positions in STEM, the balance will start to even. Strong female leaders will continue bringing changes to the industry.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech, or the space industry. Can you explain what you mean?

There are countless “myths” about being a woman in the industry. While most of them seem to be rooted in historical sexism, I can tell you from experience that if you align yourself with great mentors and companies, many of the myths and truths can be dispelled.

You can be a remarkable scientist and keep up with the status quo. Women can be great engineers and beautiful. You can be an astronaut and a wife, as you can see by the remarkable examples of Karen Nyberg and Megan McArthur. We are just as capable as anyone else.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Be Confident.

Women generally have softer voices. When speaking with confidence, it’s common that one’s voice is stronger and projected. Don’t be afraid to draw the attention of others.

Be Bold.

Whether it is how you enter the room or in the decisions that you make, don’t fear your own power. Harness it and do your best and always stand up for what you believe in.

Stay Humble.

Carry yourself with pride but always remain humble. It will make a world of difference in how you present yourself. By keeping your ego in check, people are more apt to ask you for help, and you’ll be better at asking for it when you need it. Staying humble makes you a better worker, mentor, and friend.

Always Keep Learning.

Whether it is in the industry, in your field, or in life, you should always try to absorb as much information as you can. It makes you a better listener and allows you to contribute to the world much more fluently. It bolsters confidence and self-esteem as well.

Lead by Example.

A leader sets the benchmark for what needs to be accomplished and how it gets done. Don’t anticipate that someone would do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. Approach situations kindly and with gusto.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 😊

I would love to see a Nationwide STEM program be launched in schools. Early introduction and initiatives within the school system can establish an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. For children that are interested, creation of groups and school programs could be made available in a more hands-on approach versus standard learning models.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 😊

If there was anyone, I could sit down with Gwynne Shotwell, the current COO of Space X, a phenomenal businesswoman, and remarkable contributor to the industry especially as a female figurehead. She is an inspiration and a powerful woman whom I resonate with and hope that I can mimic some of her greatness in my own professional career. I would love to pick her brain about her success in the industry as well as in the other well-rounded aspects of her life. It would be so interesting to learn about her biggest challenges and how she overcame them. She has helped pave the way for so many women in the industry. It would be amazing to ask her for advice.

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