Opportunities Boost Eagle on a Trajectory Toward Success

With his sights set squarely on space, Jarred Jordan (’23) expected to find out-of-this-world opportunities when he began his pursuit of a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach Campus.

Student Jarred Jordan ('23) standing in front of a SpaceX rocket. (Photo: Jarred Jordan)
Jarred Jordan (’23) has set himself apart by earning an Astronaut Scholar Award and also being named Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher of the Year for the Daytona Beach Campus. (Photo: Jarred Jordan)

Jordan has gotten plenty of opportunities, but it’s what he has done with them that really make the senior student a standout.

This year, Jordan earned two top-flight awards by being named Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher of the Year for the Daytona Beach Campus and then winning an Astronaut Scholar Award from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

As he enters the home stretch for his undergraduate studies, Jordan is sometimes amazed what he has learned, what he has done and who he has met.

“I've had experience that I never thought I would have,” he said. “I was 19 and I was handling spacecraft hardware that was going to the moon, of all things. You have to step back and think about what you're doing and how crazy it is at a certain point.”

Crazy good, that is. In addition to his academic achievements, Jordan has established himself as a researcher, a key member of several groundbreaking teams working on projects destined for space and a mainstay in the Space Technologies Lab, which is located in the MicaPlex at the southeastern edge of campus and run by Dr. Troy Henderson.

“That's been the most influential part of my time here,” Jordan said. “I was actually able to author my own paper for the first time over the past couple months. That was fun since I was presenting that research at the recent AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. So, it's a great lab, there are great people, and you get to work with really cool equipment.”

Jordan’s work helped him become the second Embry-Riddle student to earn the Astronaut Scholar Award. The prestigious honor provides financial assistance and, perhaps more importantly, a chance to make key connections in the burgeoning space industry.

“I actually knew Grace Robertson (the first astronaut scholar in 2021), and we worked together on a few projects,” Jordan said. “She told me to apply, and I was there when they came to present her award. I was able to talk with people from the foundation and I thought, ‘all right. These people seem pretty cool.’”

Jordan credits Dr. Brittany Davis, Embry-Riddle’s director of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships, for “getting me to that next stage of actually getting the scholarship.”

“Being an [Astronaut Scholar], you join this community,” he said. “You get to meet all these really important people in the industry, connections, you can't put a price on.”

Behind the accolades are, of course, years of hard work and dedication. Jordan was an integral part of the EagleCam project, which is set to snap the first-ever third-person photo of the Intuitive Machines Nova C lunar lander touching down on the Moon within the next several months.

“I got involved with that pretty much as soon as I got into the lab because I had prior experience on my own with electronics and that realm,” Jordan said. “And that's what they needed at the time. I actually walked in the day we got hardware. So, it was really perfect timing."

He’s also part of the team working to help capture images and video of the first commercial spacewalk being planned for the Polaris Dawn mission, led by Embry-Riddle alum Jared Isaacman (’11). The project is dubbed LLAMAS, which Jordan says stands for “Literally Looking At More Astronauts in Space.”

“We’re in a joint relationship with the Polaris Dawn crew and engineers at SpaceX,” he said. “We have this little triangle of groups, and we all work together.”

For LLAMAS, Jordan is serving as the structural design lead, stepping away for his usual work with electronics and software.

“We have a good group,” he said. “It's coming along very well. It's definitely been a lot of fun.”

Going forward, Jordan says his ultimate career goal is to work on spacecraft propulsion systems with a potential pitstop in graduate school first. For now, Jordan is grateful for the opportunities he is enjoying thanks to Embry-Riddle.

“I'm definitely looking forward to working more through the end of my senior year in the Space Technologies Lab, doing more publications and getting more research going,” he said. “I'm working on some more papers right now with the other lab members and we have the EagleCam launch coming up, so we're looking forward to that. And then the LLAMAS project, which will likely happen around the same time. So just a lot of anticipation for some amazing stuff coming up.”