6/2/2020 4:05:42 PM
Courtney Leverenz is a fifth-year senior majoring in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her interest in space exploration began after witnessing the night launch of Space Shuttle Discovery STS-131.
Once she started at Illinois, she quickly got involved on campus with Illinois Space Society (ISS), a SEDS chapter dedicated to providing technical, professional, and educational outreach opportunities for students interested in space exploration. Within the society, she acted as the Educational Outreach Director and as the Administrative Director on the executive board. In addition, Courtney has led subteams for multiple NASA-sponsored technical projects such as Student Launch, Micro-g NExT, and RASC-AL. Besides technical projects, she likes to give back to the local community through educational outreach to inspire the next generation of astronauts, engineers, and scientists.
Thanks to her involvement in educational outreach, Courtney is working to enable the ability for anyone to learn about aerospace, including those with disabilities. Courtney is the organizer of S.O.L.A.R. Power (Space-Oriented Learning and EmPOWERment), an educational outreach event and curriculum specifically designed for individuals with disabilities. This event was inspired by Courtney’s sister who is diagnosed with Autism. This year, with the COVID-19 Pandemic, Courtney did not want educational outreach to cancel. To this end, she transformed Illinois Space Day into Illinois Space Week consisting of online events lasting two hours each day while also distributing activity kits to all participants, regardless of location.
One of her favorite mottos is to never be afraid of trying new things, a mindset that’s come into play with her various internship experiences. She has created software documentation for Frasca International, modeled prototype plasma flow control actuators for CU Aerospace, performed testing on ground systems for launch vehicles at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, and designed components for the advanced space suit development team at NASA Johnson Space Center. Last year, after being selected as a 2020 Brooke Owens Fellow, Courtney interned at The Spaceship Company (now Virgin Galactic) with the Product Assurance Team! She will return to the team in August 2021 as a full-time engineer where she is excited to contribute to the future of human spaceflight!
Lastly, Courtney would like to express her gratitude and appreciation to all of those who have supported her in her endeavors. A special thank you goes to her parents, her siblings, and Brian.