46 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
Industrial engineering undergrad gets
bird’s-eye view of aerospace industry
By Madeleine Pollack
Like most kids, I grew up with a fascination for
space. I remember the first time my dad aimed our
telescope at the sky, pointing out Saturns rings and
a crescent-shaped Venus. I wondered how Galileo
must have felt to behold the same sight, centuries
ago. We would go on different adventures, the pin-
nacle of which was seeing the 2017 total solar eclipse about
an hour away from our hometown near Charlotte, North
While these adventures were fun, I never expected space
to be more of a hobby. I matriculated into Georgia Tech
in fall 2019 as an industrial and systems engineering major,
thinking my space-gazing days were behind me.
In fall 2020, I heard of a unique opportunity – the Brooke
Owens Fellowship, a professional program for exceptional
women and gender minorities interested in pursuing a ca-
reer in the aerospace industry. The fellowship was created
in honor of Dawn Brooke Owens, a pilot and space industry
expert who made a lasting impact on both public and private
sector space initiatives as an advocate for underrepresented
groups in aerospace.
Selection as a fellow includes receiving a dedicated peer
mentor and professional mentor, a paid summer internship at
a “host” aerospace company and an all-expenses-paid five-
day summit with other fellows, traditionally held in Wash-
ington. The host companies span all aspects of the space
industry, including finance, education, consulting and engi-
neering, and range from well-known giants such as NASA,
ISE undergrads learn the ropes
Internships help students settle on their career paths
March 2022 | ISE Magazine 47
SpaceX and Blue Origin
to smaller companies and
I initially wrote myself
off as being completely
underqualied, as my
educational background
in industrial engineering
did not seem to tie directly
into aerospace. However,
after meeting a few of the
2020 fellows whose back-
grounds spanned more
than just aerospace engi-
neering, I decided to throw my hat in the ring. My appli-
cation cycle required two letters of recommendation, two
written pieces (a short essay, a long essay), a creative piece
of work, a resume and my academic transcript. The goal of
the application process, I would later find out, is not just to
identify the most academically gifted individuals but those
who have exhibited grit and growth in extraordinary ways.
A month or so after submitting my initial application, I
got an email that informed me that I was a Brooke Owens
Fellowship seminalist, which meant I was in the top 15% of
applicants. I then had a 15-minute phone interview with one
of the executive members to talk a bit more in-depth about
my experiences and preferred work environments. After a
few more weeks, I was told I made it to the finalist round in
the top 10% of applicants.
At this point, the selection process was in the hands of the
host companies. I was given four companies with whom to
interview, primarily in venture capital or aerospace consult-
ing spaces. After each interview, the company and the finalist
rate each other anonymously; if there is a fit, the company
selects the individual for a paid internship and three paid days
off for the Fellowship Summit in July. About half of the fi-
nalists are eventually accepted as fellows.
In December 2020, I received news that out of more than
800 applicants, I was one of 44 fellows, also called “Brook-
ies,” for the class of 2021. My host company was Space Capi-
tal, an early-stage venture capital firm investing in space-
enabled technologies. Beyond securing a summer internship,
a stressful task for any undergraduate, I gained an incredible
community of Brookie alumnae, executive board members,
professional mentors and academic mentors. Because my ex-
posure to aerospace had been limited , the Brookie com-
munity was crucial to getting me interested and involved
in the industry. After receiving the fellowship, alumnae and
executive board members brought the new class of Brook-
ies into panel discussions, graduate school boot camps and
company info sessions.
The largest part of the fellowship experience is the sum-
mer internship. Space Capital was eye-opening to me be-
cause it invests in parts of the space economy nobody talks
about. While most people think of rockets and astronauts,
Space Capital specifically looks at “space-enabled technolo-
gies.” Some examples are geolocation, climate tracking,
communications and autonomous vehicles, some of which
we interact with daily. In a general sense, they invested in
technologies that use satellite data to make our lives better.
My role at the company was somewhat broad and I was
able to experience different aspects of the business. Some
projects included independent deal-sourcing, creating a
three-part article series on the state of the space-enabled in-
surance technology market and creating a research-backed
guide to founders on how to approach the hiring process as
a young startup. Beyond those personal projects, I had the
opportunity to attend deal flow meetings and founder intros,
which offered a deeper insight into the world of startups and
how venture capital allows for the incredible innovation I
was witnessing.
While there was not a lot of overlap between my industrial
engineering studies and internship at Space Capital, it was
perhaps one of the best introductions to the space industry
I could have received. We looked at companies whose mis-
sions spanned from data science to autonomous vehicles, ro-
bots to on-orbit manufacturing and new insurance models
for rocket ride-share. I became aware that the space industry
requires more skill sets than those of astronomers and aero-
space engineers. We need businesspeople and policymakers.
We need lawyers, agricultural experts, computer scientists
and mechanics. I feel pretty confident the space industry
needs industrial engineers, too.
The vastness of space presents us with seemingly endless
opportunity but also with new and extensive logistical chal-
lenges. While humans have had a presence in space since
the mid-20th century, the last decade has seen exponential
growth in the private space industry, and with it new chal-
The space industry has been slow to attract
new and diverse talent, which has deeply
stunted its growth potential. We need
greater representation of “unconventional”
fields in aerospace like industrial
engineering, and to be conscientiously
inviting underrepresented communities to
help us in this monumental effort.
Madeleine Pollack
48 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
ISE undergrads learn the ropes
lenges are uncovered. As far as I know, one-day shipping
does not apply to space operations, and if we are hoping to
build longer-term settlements in space or support space tour-
ism, we need to find safer, more energy-efficient mecha-
nisms to get necessary supplies and people to their destina-
tions in a timely manner.
Beyond the fantastical ideas of space tourism and human
villages on Mars, we need experts to address the crowding
of lower earth orbit (LEO), which is packed with debris. On
the manufacturing front, we see ideas circulating about on-
orbit manufacturing and metal-mining operations on aster-
oids or other planets. Industrial engineers are well-equipped
to optimize and analyze these complex systems to get us to
space faster, safer, more efficiently and more sustainably.
I believe the space industry has been slow to attract new
and diverse talent, which has deeply stunted its growth po-
tential. We need greater representation of “unconventional
fields in aerospace like industrial engineering, and to be con-
scientiously inviting underrepresented communities to help
us in this monumental effort. We have nothing to gain and
everything to lose when we miss out on incorporating the
invaluable experiences and perspectives of different groups
of people. Thats why so many initiatives exist to get under-
represented groups access to the mentorship they need to be
part of this revolution.
The Brooke Owens Fellowship, as well as sister fellowships
the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship and the Patti Grace Smith
Fellowship, exist to help bring these new ideas to the table. My
experience has changed the trajectory of my academic career.
It is my hope to see more industrial engineers represented in
these fellowship classes in the future. As Brooke Owens ex-
ecutive member Diana Trujillo told me in an interview, space
is a multidimensional problem. While we have brilliant people
currently working on tackling these problems, we need more.
And then we will need more than that.
After my fellowship summer, I joined Atlanta-based aero-
space startup Hermeus as an intern as part of its mission to
build the worlds first hypersonic commercial aircraft. I’m
the company’s first industrial engineering intern and the first
person with an industrial engineering background to ever
work there. But if I learned anything from my Brookie sum-
mer, my background, even if currently unconventional, is
needed. Every fellow space nerd, regardless of background,
is needed in this field.
Diversity is power when it comes to these multidimensional
problems and I am excited to see how we tackle them.
Madeleine Pollack is a junior industrial and systems engineering
student at Georgia Tech concentrating in Advanced Operations Re-
search and Statistics. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in operations
research after her graduation in December 2022. She is an IISE
student member.
Walmart internship provides
hands-on supply chain experience
By Annie Dorsey
I have always loved Walmart. My family has shopped
almost exclusively at Sams Club and Walmart for our
family of seven. It took me ages to understand that Sam’s
and Walmart were both founded by the same man, Sam
As I matured, I learned more and more about the
Walton family and my respect for them grew. One reason is
that when The Walton Foundation was founded, the family
set up board meetings not just with the adults in the fam-
ily but also brought in their young children to learn busi-
ness principles at their conference tables. I cant imagine how
valuable it was for middle and high school age Walton chil-
dren to learn these principles, which also bred better leaders
for the foundation.
In college, I was chatting with someone about Walmart
and explained all the reasons I admired the company. I
summed up my thinking in the phrase: Walmart is the great
equalizer. What I mean by that is literally every kind of per-
son shops at Walmart. Walking through the aisles, youll find
both young and old, rich and poor and people of all nation-
alities and races. There is no “typical Walmart shopper.
Considering my admiration for Walmart, when I saw its
booths at the career fair, I had to stop by. At Auburn, both the
College of Engineering and the Supply Chain Career Fairs
included Walmart teams. After chatting with the recruiters,
we agreed to keep in touch. Here’s the catch – we actually
did! My hiring manager and I had a cadence of shooting a few
emails back and forth each semester. When it came time to
interview, I felt I had a relationship with my hiring manager
and was thrilled to receive an offer for a summer internship.
By the time I began with Walmart in June 2021, I was
embarking on my third fully remote internship. I felt I was
nally getting a handle on how to onboard and work ef-
fectively without ever having met my team. I knew the
importance of setting up
coffee chats with cross-
functional teams and was
encouraged to do so by
my manager.
I was put on an efcient
and effective startup team
within the Transporta-
tion Department. With
Walmart being a Fortune
1 company, we joked that
we were the best funded
startup ever. My team was
super agile and growing
Annie Dorsey
March 2022 | ISE Magazine 49
like crazy. For reference, we planned to increase by nine
times, adding more than 50 new full-time employees just
to our team.
I was tasked with modeling the transportation problem for
all intermodal (rail) business. Specifically that meant model-
ing out the peak season to choose which routes Walmart
should take and which carriers should take other routes. Af-
ter using the transportation problem model, my team cre-
ated the business case for how many additional containers we
would need to execute the optimal transportation problem
formulation. We compared peak needs with needs the rest of
the year. We then plugged the costs and container constraints
back into the transportation problem model to solve exactly
which routes we should run internally and which we should
outsource. The recommendation was no small ask; we pro-
posed increasing our fleet by 240%. However, in increasing
the fleet by this amount, Walmart realized a $21.7 million
In addition to an awesome project and the support of
an incredible team, the summer had a great surprise. The
transportation leadership invited all interns and new hires
on a trip to Southern California to see Walmart’s operations
there. I spent a week soaking up all of the transportation
information I could possibly absorb. It was akin to drinking
from a fire hose. For all of the technical training I received
in my engineering degree, we only had a few classes that
covered broader supply chain and transportation topics. I
was very thankful to have knowledgeable and patient leaders
willing to answer all of my questions.
As we went from sortable to nonsortable, to high velocity
to grocery distribution centers and even fulllment centers, I
got a great view of every type of distribution center. We also
got to visit cross docks, rail yards and the Port of Los Angeles
and Long Beach. The port visits were my personal favorite
because like any industrial engineer, I was pretty certain I
could help clear out the 60-plus ships waiting to dock at the
ports. I was quickly humbled. It was fascinating to problem-
solve and think through all of the solutions they have em-
ployed to try to alleviate the congestion there.
The transportation leadership invited
all interns and new hires on a trip to
Southern California to see Walmart’s
operations there. I spent a week soaking
up all of the transportation information
I could possibly absorb. It was akin to
drinking from a fire hose.
Annie Dorsey, a 2021 Auburn University industrial engineering graduate, poses before a Walmart truck. Dorsey served an
internship with the retail giant where she began a fulltime job after graduation.
50 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
ISE undergrads learn the ropes
We took a boat out through the port and got to see loading
and unloading of containers. We even had our ocean team
on the boat as we moved through the ships and they were
able to recite what products were on which ships and how
long we had been waiting for the ship to dock.
This summer was such a great learning experience. My
manager pushed me to solve hard problems and my team and
the cross-functional teams supported the success of the proj-
ect. I think my director put it best when he said that 30% of
your time here should be spent actually achieving your proj-
ect, 30% will be learning, seminars and courses, etc., 30%
should be networking and the final 10% should be fun!
Annie Dorsey is an industrial engineering graduate from Auburn
University, where she was an IISE student member and served as
student chapter president. She now works fulltime with Walmart.
Learning the basics of finance
and teamwork at Citi Colombia
By Ana Sofía Cavallo
I’m an industrial engineering student at Universidad de
La Sabana in Colombia finishing my last semester. I’m
interested in most fields of my major, so when I was look-
ing for an internship, I was flexible and focused on how
much I could learn more than a specific industry or sub-
ject matter.
My university has a career fair where companies visit and
tell us about the different internships they offer. Citi was one
of the companies attending, and they presented four types of
internship opportunities, one in operations. I was initially
drawn to the fact that Citi doesnt just provide internships as
standalone offers but as part of a program that includes train-
ing and networking events with other interns. I perceived that
it was a great learning opportunity.
During the recruitment process, the interview with two
potential managers was a big factor in accepting the intern-
ship. I was able to ask questions about the nature of the role,
including what the day-to-day looked like and what was ex-
pected of me. I was told the position required involvement in
different projects so most days would be different and there
would be variability during the six-month period.
The department I interned for oversees operations and tech-
nology for Citi Colombia, identifying improvement oppor-
tunities and promoting and facilitating their implementation.
Because of this, I saw my role as very project-focused, which
allowed me to participate in several initiatives and learn from
different areas of the bank.
I was responsible for actively participating in innovative
projects that increase efficiency in operations and technology
processes and/or improve the control environment. Addition-
ally, I produced metrics to simplify monitoring different areas
in operations and technology and suggested improvements.
I was involved in a 10-week training program with opera-
tions interns from Colombia as well as the U.S. and Mexico.
It was very well-rounded because it touched on many topics,
March 2022 | ISE Magazine 51
including Citis culture,
global financial markets
and useful technologi-
cal tools. Additionally, we
had presentations designed
to help us understand our
individual roles and de-
partments. We also had
networking sessions with
other interns and presen-
tations from senior em-
ployees to introduce us to
the different career paths
available at the bank and allow us to learn from other people’s
experiences. We also were granted access to several Citi plat-
forms that included courses and articles about many topics to
explore on our time, depending on our interests. These were
available during the six months of the internship.
Because of the pandemic, my internship was 100% remote.
In my first weeks at Citi, I felt a little overwhelmed because
of all the new information I received. Organizing it was chal-
lenging as well as learning to ask the right questions when
something needed further explanation. Thankfully, everyone
at Citi was extremely patient and welcoming, and I was ori-
ented toward the answers I needed. My team was especially
helpful and took time to explain how the bank works and
what was expected of our area.
Managers from other areas also met with me to explain how
their departments contributed to Citi, allowing me to under-
stand how different teams work together. Regardless of rank, I
always felt people were eager to help me, and when they didnt
know the answer to a question, they guided me to other paths
and resources I could try. Overall, I got a feeling that helping
others is part of Citi culture, which is great when youre new
and have so much to learn.
From the moment I stepped foot (virtually) at Citi, I havent
stopped learning. One of the biggest areas I’ve strengthened
during my internship is my knowledge of the financial indus-
try. Before my internship, I had a basic understanding lim-
ited to what I learned in university and read online. Working
at Citi expanded my awareness of financial products offered
by banks, their roles in the market and the different actors in
the financial system. I also learned about different innovation
tools that help collaborative brainstorming and guide sessions
to align those from different areas of the bank toward a com-
mon goal.
In terms of soft skills, I worked on time management and
resourcefulness. In an academic setting, all tasks have due
dates, whether they are a day, a week or a semester away. Con-
sidering that my role was very project-driven during my in-
ternship, I was sometimes given tasks to be completed without
a specific deadline. Learning to use my time wisely and clas-
sify deliverables according to their urgency and importance
without ignoring any activities is challenging, but it was ulti-
mately one of the skills I learned most.
A challenge I faced, and continue to face, is finding answers.
Sometimes the path to an answer isnt as clear as I hoped so I
have to round up the resources that are available and find a
way to use them. At the beginning, this was especially hard
because I wasnt aware of all the resources I had while I was
getting settled in my internship. But by now, I’ve been able
to find a group of tools to choose from when I need help or
have questions. In other words, choosing resources wisely to
nd answers can be challenging, but it is something I’ve been
able to practice.
The main ISE skill I’ve applied is problem-solving. In the
different classes I took for my major, I was given many tools
to solve various types of problems. The biggest takeaway from
all of that information was developing a structure to find so-
lutions to problems that dont always have a clear answer or
path. Communication is also key and goes hand-in-hand with
problem-solving because many of the challenges faced can be
solved with the help of the right people by asking the right
questions. Teamwork, from my experience, is crucial at Citi.
When I was looking for an internship, I was very flexible
with its terms. All I knew was that I wanted an opportuni-
ty to learn as much as possible. In my time at Citi, I learned
something new every day, constantly felt challenged and was
pushed out of my comfort zone. I felt that the effort I put into
my work was valuable to the bank. I recommend this intern-
ship to any curious students ready to expand their knowledge
by taking what theyve learned in class and applying it to a
challenging yet rewarding environment.
Ana Sofía Cavallo is an industrial engineering student at Universidad
de La Sabana in Chia, Colombia. She is an IISE student member.
Considering that my role was very
project-driven during my internship, I was
sometimes given tasks to be completed
without a specific deadline. Learning
to use my time wisely and classify
deliverables according to their urgency and
importance without ignoring any activities
is challenging, but it was ultimately one of
the skills I learned most.
Ana Sofía Cavallo