Aerospace Engineering Student Explores the Best of Both Worlds

Aerospace Engineering student Marielle Lenehan capitalized on her SCUBA diving experience for an opportunity of a lifetime.

Aerospace Engineering major Marielle Lenehan. (Photo: Embry-Riddle/Joseph Harrison)
Aerospace Engineering major Marielle Lenehan in an Embry-Riddle campus lab. (Photo: Embry-Riddle/Joseph Harrison)

Aspiring rocket scientist Marielle Lenehan (’23) finds herself just as fascinated by what can be found beyond the stars as what lies beneath the surface of the ocean.

When it came to choosing a school where she could pursue both her passions, Embry-Riddle’s proximity to the ocean and Space Coast made it the perfect fit.

“There's nothing more encouraging than to look out of your dorm window to see a rocket launch into the sky – a steady reminder of what you might be working on in the future!” she said.

Nailing Down a NASA Internship

In 2021, Lenehan was accepted to NASA Johnson Space Center’s Pathways Internship Program, which provides students with opportunities to work at various branches in preparation for a career with NASA after graduation.

With multiple SCUBA diving certifications under her belt and a keen interest in human space studies, it’s no surprise she ended up at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL), an astronaut training facility that houses the agency’s neutral buoyancy pool.

“The underwater environment serves as one of the best microgravity analogs out there, and divers face many of the same restrictions as an astronaut during extravehicular activities,” she said.

What Is a NASA Internship Like?

Successful completion of rigorous medical, swimming and diving evaluations cleared Lenehan for what would be her most impactful experience yet – scuba diving in the NBL and exploring its full-scale model of the ISS.

She even played a crucial role in the setup of several underwater lunar lighting tests designed to replicate shadows found in the polar regions of the moon where the Artemis missions are set to land. When she wasn’t in the water, Lenehan also assisted with the design and structural analysis of a new platform to increase the fidelity of water survival training for astronauts.

“The fact that I worked at the NBL during my first co-op rotation is really special, especially when you consider that applying to the branch is highly competitive,” she said.

Outside of her studies, Lenehan keeps busy as a principal investigator for a research project in the Spacesuit Utilization of Innovative Technology (S.U.I.T.) Lab. She also served as president of the university’s marine conservation diving club for three years.

The Aerospace Engineering program has given her the knowledge and hands-on experience to dive into the internship – and wherever the aerospace industry takes her next – with confidence.

What Does an Aerospace Engineering Degree at Embry-Riddle Offer?

For more than 17 years, the Aerospace Engineering undergraduate program at Embry-Riddle has held the top ranking in the nation among schools whose highest degree is a master’s, according to U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges Guide.

Students benefit from the most modern, state-of-the-art resources available today — the same tools in use by aerospace engineering professionals around the globe. No other Aerospace Engineering program in the United States attracts more students.

“People at Riddle really do want you to succeed and are always there for you if you need them,” Lenehan said. “That kind of support was integral and gave me the motivation to not only do well in my classes, but to take my shot and apply for experiences like the Pathways program.”

Ready to take your shot? Apply at Embry-Riddle today.