Amelia Batcha: Shooting for the Moon at NASA


In high school, Amelia Batcha (B.S. ’15) was fortunate to be selected as one of only seven students to complete not one but two internships at Air Products and Chemicals.

“I shadowed Air Products employees, learned about the engineering work they did, and connected with mentors outside of my internship roles,” says the Bethlehem, PA, native. “I had already decided to study engineering in college, and my experiences at Air Products helped confirm that decision.”

Soon after arriving at Penn State, Amelia was intrigued by a first-year seminar, titled “This is Rocket Science.”

“It spoke to my fascination of the universe and the mysteries that surround it, along with my passion for understanding how humans can live among the stars,” explains Amelia. “So, I changed my academic focus from nuclear engineering to aerospace engineering.”

As an undergraduate, Amelia was involved in THON for three years, including serving as a member of the THON Special Interest Organization Ohana and a morale committee. She was also involved with the Student Space Programs Laboratory and joined the Lunar Lion Team, which participated in the 2015 Google Lunar XPRIZE Competition to develop a low-cost method for robotic space exploration.

“Penn State was the only university in the competition, so it was exciting to be part of a group of passionate students going up against experienced engineers from around the world,” recalls Amelia. “Having that technical hands-on experience, which was completely voluntary but required a lot of time outside of my engineering classes, gave me great talking points for my future interviews with NASA.”

Amelia also served as a Career Envoy through the Engineering Career Resources and Employer Relations Office. In this role, she talked with other engineering students about her internship at Sikorsky Global Helicopters in Coatesville, PA, as well as her three co-op rotations at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, TX.

After graduation, Amelia joined NASA JSC full time in the Flight Mechanics and Trajectory Design Branch within the Aeroscience and Flight Mechanics Division.

Today, she is assigned to Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), responsible for working on mission design and trajectory shaping for Orion—NASA’s next human exploration spacecraft. Orion is scheduled to launch no earlier than the fall of 2018. Its destination is a Distant Retrograde Orbit (DRO) around the Moon, and its return to Earth is off the coast of California.

“As part of EM-1, I am tasked to collaborate with various subsystems,” says Amelia. “I work with optimization software that pulls a variety of requirements together to result in a successful mission from launch to splashdown.”

Amelia is planning to train as a backroom engineer in mission control.

“I’ll be able to address any technical issues with the Orion spacecraft’s trajectory software, while the 26-day mission is underway,” she explains.

Amelia enjoys the day-to-day challenges of working at NASA JSC, and she says her alma mater gave her the fundamentals to help solve those challenges.

She adds, “Having the opportunity to work on a spacecraft designed to reflect the new era of space exploration is full of excitement and intrigue.”

Amelia resides in Houston.

—Stefanie Tomlinson


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Chris Spallino

Amelia Batcha

Amelia Batcha (B.S. '15)



The Penn State Department of Aerospace Engineering, established in 1961 and the only aerospace engineering department in Pennsylvania, is consistently recognized as one of the top aerospace engineering departments in the nation, and is also an international leader in aerospace education, research, and engagement. Our undergraduate program is ranked 15th and our graduate programs are ranked 15th nationally by U.S. News & World Report, while one in 25 holders of a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering in the U.S. earned it from Penn State. Our students are consistently among the most highly recruited by industry, government, and graduate schools nationwide.

The department is built upon the fundamentals of academic integrity, innovation in research, and commitment to the advancement of industry. Through an innovative curriculum and world-class instruction that reflects current industry practice and embraces future trends, Penn State Aerospace Engineering graduates emerge as broadly educated, technically sound aerospace engineers who will become future leaders in a critical industry

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