Alumni Abigail Zinecker graduated in 2012 and went to the University of Houston, gaining a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering. In high school Zinecker participated in band for a year and played on the tennis team.
What have you done after high school?(College, jobs, etc.)
“After I graduated from HS, I went to University of Houston for a BS in Mechanical Engineering,” Zinecker said. “While there, I took part in several organizations such as Pi Tau Sigma, the international mechanical engineering honor society, where I was the treasurer for 2 years. I did undergraduate research on flexible Li-ion batteries for use in future space suits, and I was also able to study abroad in Limerick, Ireland for 5 months. After working an internship in the energy industry back in Houston, I decided I would switch gears and try aerospace instead. After graduation I was accepted to CU Boulder for an MS in Aerospace Engineering and focus in Bioastronautics, the study and support of life in space, so I packed up and moved to Colorado. Here, I’ve done some really interesting coursework and worked on a space habitat design project, where I was the finance lead and human factors lead. My team designed and built a mock-up space habitat in our lab and ran testing in which 4 participants ran through various scenarios of astronaut life to assess our habitat design. Last summer I had an internship at Boeing working on the Space Launch System rocket, which will take humans to the moon and Mars. I’ll be graduating in May 2018.”
What made you want to do what you are doing now?
“I’ve always thought space was really cool, but I didn’t know I wanted to make a career out of it until I was almost through with college,” Zinecker said. “Doing something I really didn’t like spurred me to decide if I was going to have a job that I had to go to every day, it was going to be doing something awesome.”
What did you learn or experience in high school affect you in college and beyond?
“In high school the most important thing I learned was how to study and balance all my classes and activities,” Zinecker said. “I worked really hard to actually learn my material instead of just memorizing it for the test. This is a really great skill to have in college and outside of school, because it helps you actually become good at what you do.”
Explain your job now, what you are doing, different aspects of your job.
“Currently I’m an engineering grad student, so my job is the same as it always was, study 24/7,” Zinecker said. “I read scientific journal articles, textbooks, news articles about what’s going on in my industry, and spend a lot of time on my computer doing homework assignments and writing papers and documents for projects that I’m working on. I’m also a course assistant, so part of my job is to grade papers to help out my professor and to help other students in my discipline.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I’ve accepted a job at Boeing to work in thermal analysis on the SLS, so I’ll be moving states again after I graduate,” Zinecker said. “This time, Alabama near NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center. Before I start work I hope to take a trip with one of my friends from college to Peru to see Machu Picchu.”
What is your advice to current high schoolers?
“Back in high school I was a high-strung, straight-A kid, but I didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do,” Zinecker said. “My advice? Don’t worry so much. You don’t have to be perfect, because nobody else is, even if they seem like it. Even if you have a plan for the rest of your life or the next four years, there’s a strong possibility the next 4 months will not go according to that plan. And that’s great. I never thought I’d be doing any of the things I’ve done or are doing now. So don’t stress about it.”