Aerospace Engineering Senior Named NASA HUNCH and Blazing Trails Program Host

Aerospace engineering senior Lauren-Ann Graham operates the metal chop saw as an intern at Larsen Motorsports.

In addition to being involved with Greek life, Larsen Motorsports (LMS) and the university’s NASA Robotic Mining Competition team, aerospace engineering senior Lauren-Ann Graham has been selected as the new educational host for Rockets to Race Cars, formed through a partnership between NASA HUNCH (High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware) and LMS nonprofit organization Blazing Trails.

“Rockets to Race Cars is an educational program that focuses on teaching students of all ages the STEM science behind rocket engines, jet engines, spacesuits and fire suits and all of the equipment found in both vehicles,” Lauren-Ann says. “It also informs students of educational paths to take and career fields that support our STEM industry in America.”

As the educational host, Lauren-Ann teaches students through virtual videos as well as face-to-face at the LMS headquarters, which houses a display comparing NASA shuttle equipment to that of the LMS jet dragsters.

Lauren-Ann has been a jet propulsion engineering intern at LMS for about a year, learning how to weld and about all the ins and outs of General Electric J-85 jet engines. During that time, LMS owner and Florida Tech jet dragster driver Elaine Larsen partnered with NASA HUNCH and suggested Lauren-Ann for the educational host role.

“Elaine believed I was perfect for the role because of my absolute love for NASA, my aerospace engineering knowledge from Florida Tech and my many years of experience in acting and musical theater,” Lauren-Ann says.

The team published its first Rockets to Race Cars video (above) May 18 and has created several others awaiting approval from NASA . The videos will be posted on the LMS YouTube channel and the NASA website, and they will also be part of the LMS interactive display.

“The goal of Rockets to Race Cars is to excite and inform the next generation about the STEM industry, show them how they can chase their dreams in a given field and, most importantly, to inspire students,” she says.

Lauren-Ann dreams of becoming an astronaut one day, and she has a real passion for inspiring the next generation. During the minimal free time in her busy schedule, Lauren-Ann enjoys playing soccer, going on adventures and taking pictures—she takes her camera with her everywhere she goes.

Her favorite thing about Florida Tech is the student body’s diversity.

“The diversity across campus is so refreshing, and students quickly become family,” Lauren-Ann says.

Her senior year has been full of exciting opportunities, as she recently participated in Space Coast Living magazine’s annual local cover model competition. Because 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing, and flight testing for the Artemis program, which will put the first woman on the moon, is planned for 2020, the publication dedicated the issue’s cover to women in STEM.

Seen here posing for Space Coast Living‘s 2020 cover model contest, Lauren-Ann was named fan-favorite and was featured inside the magazine.

Although she didn’t win first place, Lauren-Ann did receive the fan-favorite award and was featured in the magazine (pg. 32).

After she graduates in fall, Lauren-Ann plans to earn her master’s degree at Florida Tech. She intends to continue interning at LMS, working on the Rockets to Race Cars project through its completion, which she expects to be within about two years, and most importantly, pursuing her dreams of ultimately becoming an astronaut.

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