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Better Satellite World Podcast: The Promise

In this Better Satellite World podcast series, we ask the question: “What would you do if you had the power to make the world a better place during your career?” Members of the “20 Under 35” cohort of 2023 join SSPI’s Lou Zacharilla to give us some answers.

Episode 1: Onyinye Nwankwo, Amy Comeau and Dr. Justyna Kosianka

Onyinye Nwankwo is an accomplished scientist in the field of upper atmospheric and space sciences, currently pursuing her PhD in Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Industrial Physics at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in her home country of Nigeria before obtaining a Master’s degree in Space Geophysics from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in Brazil and a second Master of Science in Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering from the University of Michigan. During her undergraduate studies, Onyinye served as an industrial trainee “Radio Signal Officer” at the Nigeria Port Authority in Lagos State, where her skills in maintaining radio signals and signal processing were key to ensuring efficient communication and navigation services. She went on to become a Scientific Officer with the Center for Atmospheric Research, National Space Research and Development Agency (CAR-NASRDA) in Anyibga, Kogi State, Nigeria, where she showcased her expertise in data processing, management and the operation of cutting-edge imaging technology. In this role, Onyinye provided key raw data handling for the All-Sky Airglow Imager and Fabry Perot Interferometer and made significant contributions to the understanding of atmospheric phenomena, which also bolstered Nigeria’s stature in space and atmospheric research. Before joining CAR-NASRDA, she worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Physics at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture in Umudike, Nigeria, where she handled a range of responsibilities for the department, including course instruction, design and implementation of research methodologies, contributions to lab experiments and management of administrative tasks. Onyinye was selected as one of the three Promise Award Recipients for the 2023 “20 Under 35” cohort. Read more about Onyinye.

Amy Comeau is a lead member of the CST-100 Starliner Chief Engineer’s Office at Boeing, a position that requires solving complex system-level design and integration challenges. As part of her current role, she facilitates factory tours of the Starliner program for key stakeholders, including legislators, community leaders, national and international customers, universities and other organizations, making constant use of her powerful communication and leadership skills. Amy began her career at Boeing in 2018 as a satellite systems vehicle engineer as part of a rotation program, where she led an in-depth analysis of test equipment anomalies and supported the setup and functional checkouts of various satellite payloads. Before joining Boeing, she worked in a fellowship for start-up Bryce Space and Technology as a Brooke Owens fellow – one of only 36 women selected for the fellowship in 2017. She also participated in NASA’s Micro-g NExT challenge as a student, during which she designed, developed and manufactured a tool that could seal micrometeorite debris holes on the International Space Station. Amy graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. Read more about Amy.

Dr. Justyna Kosianka is a Senior Remote Sensing Scientist at Ursa Space Systems, with a history of designing and developing algorithms for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) analytics, geospatial modeling for synthetic SAR training data generation and data fusion. Within this she has focused on change detection as well as environmental monitoring analytics. Dr. Kosianka serves as the manager for Ursa’s SAR-based Analytics Team and has served as the technical lead for the company’s suite of SAR-based Earth observation analytics, including National Catastrophe, soil moisture, stockpile measurement, flood mapping, well monitoring and oil storage measurement and supply chain management. She was recently assigned the role of Product Owner for Ursa’s commodities-based product offerings. In this role, Dr. Kosianka is responsible for planning for design and development of commodities and Earth observation products, which helps set the direction for an entire suite of SAR-analytics-based products for the company. She has made particular progress in the area of 3D Change Detection while at Ursa, resulting in her being awarded 2 patents for SATELLITE SAR ARTIFACT SUPPRESSION FOR ENHANCED THREE-DIMENSIONAL FEATURE EXTRACTION, CHANGE DETECTION, AND VISUALIZATIONS (A-1 and B-1). Read more about Dr. Kosianka.

The "20 Under 35" cohort of 2023 was sponsored by

With Thanks to Our Corporate Partners

Episode 2: Julie Newman, Dr. Zhe Liu and Alix Rousseliere

Julie Newman is Program Chief Engineer for Satelit Nusantara Lima N5 (SNL), a major geostationary communications satellite program, at Boeing. In this role, she has been instrumental in overseeing risk management and problem resolution for the satellite, particularly in the midst of a challenging shift to a different payload. Julie regularly directs and approves the work of senior engineering staff and provides recommendations to the program management office and the customer. She has also represented her executive manager in various critical functions, ranging from safety to quality assurance across Boeing’s El Segundo site and has spearheaded multiple process improvement initiatives, including major efforts to improve Boeing’s engineering training and metrics tracking systems. Before taking on her current position, Julie was the Technical Program Manager, a role in which she led a team of 15 engineers to develop the engine controller assembly for the Space Launch System (SLS) first stage rocket. The team consistently exceeded expectations under her leadership while executing a late re-design of the unit to resolve a leakage issue associated with a sneak path discovered during testing of the engineering model. She received a Promise Award from SSPI in 2023. Read more about Julie.

Dr. Zhe Liu is Senior Materials & Process Engineer at Maxar as well as an accomplished scientist with a broad range of expertise in material science, biopolymers and computer science. Originally from China, Dr. Liu began her academic journey with an undergraduate degree in her home country. She then spent several years engaged in research and development in biopolymers before moving to the U.S. for further studies. She earned a Master’s degree in Material Science with a concentration in composite materials from the University of Dayton before pursuing a PhD at Florida State University, where her research focused on nano composite materials for thermal ablative applications. During her PhD, Dr. Liu joined a California-based start-up company that specialized in the novel 3D printing of continuous fiber carbon composites. As team leader, she characterized the materials and developed the process for printing structural components. This crucial work paved the way for the successful commercialization of a carbon fiber/thermoplastic composite bicycle. Dr. Liu is currently working on a second Master’s degree in Computer Science at Georgia Tech while working full-time for Maxar. Read more about Dr. Liu.

Alix Rousselière is Strategy Consultant for Satcom at Euroconsult, which she joined in April 2022. Her role responsibilities include advising satellite operators and space agencies, conducting commercial and financial assessments and developing market intelligence reports on a variety of topics, including milsatcom and NGSO constellations. Although not an engineer herself, Alix has completed exemplary work on highly technical technology harmonization dossiers for the European Space Agency (ESA), demonstrating her ability to learn and adapt quickly. She participated in more than 12 international consulting missions within her first year at Euroconsult. Before joining Euroconsult, Alix spent two years at Thales in Abu Dhabi where she worked on Strategy and Commercial Development for Defense & Space Key Accounts. In particular, Alix formulated and helped implement a new, transversal, coordinated 5-year Strategic Plan for the company’s UAE Defense accounts by analyzing trends and providing recommendations to C-level executive management on priority subjects and associated investments. Read more about Alix.

Episode 3: Srikanth Kodeboyina and Klaus Okkelberg

Srikanth Kodeboyina is the Founder and CEO of Blue Eye Soft Corp, currently in the process of becoming Blue Space. He moved to the United States in 2010 to pursue his education and earned his Master’s degree in Computer and Electrical Engineering from the University of Dayton. Within six years of completing his degree, he was working for Fortune 100 companies and managing projects across 14 states with budgets up to $32 million. Srikanth moved on to be commissioned an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, which led to him becoming a U.S. citizen. With citizenship came the opportunity to pursue his true dream, starting his own enterprise in the form of Blue Eye Soft (BES). The company initially offered IT consulting and management services, but it quickly expanded to include BlueDoc AI, Blue Space and Blue Space International, creating a specialty in the application of artificial intelligence models to analyze vast amounts of data, text and imagery. BES has established offices in South Carolina and New Mexico and intends to establish a presence in an international business hub in India next. The company has achieved the highest security clearances and been awarded contracts from agencies such as NASA and AFWERX, a technology directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Since founding BES, Srikanth has been chosen by more than 20 organizations to participate in incubator/accelerator programs for top entrepreneurs. He was a member of the first cohort of the New Mexico Lab-Embedded Entrepreneur Program (LEEP) at Los Alamos National Laboratory and was also chosen to be part of MIT’s Engine program that helps the next generation of “Tough Tech” leaders navigate the commercialization process. Read more about Srikanth.

Klaus Okkelberg is an Electrical Design & Analysis Engineer at Boeing. In his current position, he works at Boeing Phantom Works Space on moving ground-based signal processing algorithms to space, reducing turnaround time, which is crucial for enabling autonomous operations. Klaus also works with artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), specifically deep neural networks (DNNs), for image-based inspection and pose estimation – the detection of the position and orientation – of unknown satellites. Supervised AI/ML greatly reduces the need for feature engineering, meaning fewer engineers and revisions are needed per project. Using DNN algorithms has sped up development of new image processing functions and reduces the cost of developing and deploying new space-based imaging sensors, which has led to many new business opportunities for Boeing with national space government customers. Klaus has personally developed several key innovations in AI/ML, including data augmentations, training regularizations and high-dimensional space embeddings. These developments greatly reduce generalization error and enable the use of real satellite imagery from different sources without additional pre- or post-processing. Klaus is a graduate of Penn State Schreyer Honors College with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and of the University of New Orleans with a Master’s degree in the same field. At Penn State, his thesis on nonlinear control of marginal oscillators contributed to the more precise detection of explosive materials, providing immense benefit to potential customers such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Klaus interned at Xilinx in their signal integrity division. Read more about Klaus.