Three MAE students win prestigious space industry fellowship

Isakowitz Fellows photos
2024 Isakowitz Fellows: Ben Kim, Isabel Kim, and Vraj Patel

Mechanical and aerospace engineering students Ben Kim, Isabel Kim and Vraj Patel have been selected as 2024 Matthew Isakowitz Fellows. The Isakowitz Program is a highly selective national fellowship for aerospace engineering students with an interest in commercial spaceflight. 

The fellowship is named in honor of Princeton alumnus Matthew Isakowitz, who graduated in 2009 with a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. Isakowitz was passionate about opportunities in commercial spaceflight and worked at the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Planetary Resources and Astranis before his death in 2017.

Now in its seventh year, the Isakowitz Program provides 31 exceptional students pursuing aerospace careers with paid internships at cutting-edge commercial space companies. Fellows also receive one-on-one mentorship from accomplished members of the space community, including astronauts, engineers, entrepreneurs, executives, investors, and others. More than 250 students from 90 colleges applied for the fellowship this year. 

Ben Kim is a junior studying mechanical and aerospace engineering. He will intern with Vast Space. Since a young age, he has been interested in all things regarding space travel and habitation. Previously, Ben interned at Trans Astronautica Corporation, a start-up which develops technology for sighting, capturing, and processing space debris and asteroids. He has also been an assistant at the Power Electronics Laboratory at Princeton where he helped research the behavior of self-learning piezoelectrically actuated soft robots. On campus, he has served as Music Director for the Roaring 20, the university’s premier co-ed acapella group, and the outreach director of Princeton Rocketry, in which he is a NASA RASC-AL challenge team member. He is an event supervisor for Princeton University Science Olympiad and an undergraduate advisor for first-year engineering students. 

Isabel Kim is a senior studying mechanical and aerospace engineering. She will intern with Sierra Space. Driven by a passion for human space exploration, Isabel hopes to contribute to the development of crew interfaces and stations for future manned missions to LEO and beyond. For her undergraduate thesis, Isabel is currently developing a conceptual design for a communal space to stabilize astronaut wellbeing through social interaction in isolated, confined, and extreme environments. As a Mechanical Design Integration Intern for Northrop Grumman, she worked on SDA's Tranche program to design subassembly support brackets and electrical harnessing, and to create installation drawings for the WFOV and MFOV space vehicles. At Lunar Outpost, Isabel spearheaded testing for MAPP and NASA's Lunar Terrain Vehicle by outlining methodologies to meet specifications, executing in vacuum chambers and test beds, and compiling technical reports. 

Vraj Patel is a senior studying mechanical and aerospace engineering. He will intern with Redwire. He is interested in space technologies that will allow advanced space exploration and research, including asteroid mining and microgravity manufacturing. He has interned at Maxar Technologies, creating prototype designs for communication subsystems for various programs, including NASA’s Power and Propulsion Element module, DISH Network’s Echostar25 satellite, and L3Harris’s T1TRK bus.  On campus, Vraj has been a part of the Princeton Rocketry Club, serving as a mechanical team lead for High Powered Rocketry, achieving HPR Level 1 Certification. Additionally, he served as the vice-chair for Princeton's AIAA chapter, creating internship panels and speaker series that enabled the Princeton aerospace community to connect with other interns and employees from various aerospace organizations. Moving forward, Vraj intends to pursue a master's degree focusing on the intersection between space robotics and space system design. 

Read more about the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Class of 2024