Yale students tend to be the type to shoot for the stars, an ambition that Genevieve Fowler ’16 has taken to the next level. As co-president of the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA), Fowler has organized multiple projects that, quite literally, skyrocket to new heights. Through her extracurriculars and classes at Yale, Fowler has embraced the challenges of engineering with curiosity and excitement, approaching every project with boundless energy.
Fowler was drawn to science in high school, impassioned to try and understand her place in the universe. She came to Yale hoping to study physics, but also wanting to join an engineering club on campus. She found YUAA during her freshman year after a random recommendation from a friend — with whom she now leads the organization. As co-president, Fowler does everything from checking in on individual projects to communicating with the engineering office and YUAA’s other operational branches. This year, YUAA is working on four engineering projects: a radio telescope, an autonomous aircraft, and two rockets — one of which will be competition-bound in March. “I forget that my life isn’t all aerospace sometimes,” Fowler said.
Loving the high-paced timeline of engineering she found through YUAA, Fowler turned from physics to mechanical engineering in her sophomore year. She found her niche working with teammates through the design process, prototyping, and design editing — and then doing it all again. Fowler has been involved in a number of projects and now works as a design aide at the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design. She also helps with 2D to 3D, Engine Teardown, and chocolate-molding workshops. “Not only do I get to be nosy and hear about other people’s projects, but I also get to see a ton of what’s going on, from clubs to classes,” she said. “This is engineering, but it’s also so much fun.”
Through engineering, Fowler has challenged herself and succeeded in ways she never thought possible. Each time a rocket launches or a project succeeds, she thinks: “Wow, we made this device and it works….How did we know how to do that?”
Fowler’s classes and YUAA have pushed her to undertake demanding technical endeavors and to discover firsthand the difference between learning equations and putting things together. “Engineering professors are great and engineering classes are fun,” she said, “but working on a team to actually build something is also extremely informative and helpful.”
In one of her engineering classes, Fowler was recently challenged to help design a solution to improve real-world methods for hernia repair surgery. Although working to minimize the pain and recovery time of a surgical procedure was notably different from building rockets, Fowler enjoyed the learning curve of the project. It was her first time designing for the human experience, and the assignment struck a chord with her. “I like the idea of building something that might help someone or make someone happy,” she said.
When Fowler is not focusing on classwork or YUAA, she makes sure to spend time outdoors as a Yale Outdoors leader and a member of Yale’s archery, equestrian, and climbing club teams. She also enjoys art and is taking two art classes this term. “Finding a balance is huge,” Fowler said, “but you definitely can do it as an engineer.”
Fowler’s enthusiasm for her engineering community and projects at Yale drives her to be an inquisitive and dedicated engineer. Generating that excitement in others is her favorite part of being co-president of YUAA. “I want to create opportunities for people to get excited about engineering, to discover something they really enjoy, and to get involved with something on a larger scale,” she said. “Helping Yale engineering grow is a really cool thing too.”
Whether she is staying up late the night before a launch, fixing technical glitches, or laughing and eating pizza with her engineering family, Fowler proves that finding the fun and joy in STEM is not just a possibility, but a job requirement.
Cover Image: While Fowler (left) is not graduating quite yet, there is one project that she hopes lives on after she does — the tree house in the Yale-Myers forest that she helped build after her freshman year. This project is something she said was one of her most fun Yale experiences and one that helped her transition to engineering. Image courtesy of Genevieve Fowler.