Electrical Engineer | Science Communicator | Citizen Astronaut
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Kat Echazarreta At A Glance:
Katya Echazarreta is a Mexican American who, despite the language barrier, took her science career to incredible heights – literally. It was because of her mother, who inspired a lot of great work ethic throughout her childhood, that she found a reason to follow her passions. Katya also saw that there was a lack of women in the STEM fields. This was an issue, as she could not ask anyone with her own perspective for advice on how to make it in the largely male dominated field. It definitely paid off. After graduating from high school, she attended a Community College, where she studied Electrical Engineering. Eventually, she would go on to attend UCLA, where she got a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. It was here where she earned an internship with NASA. This ultimately landed her a full time position as an engineer, a position that afforded her the opportunity to work on five different NASA missions, such as the Europa Clipper and the Perseverance rover. Right now, she is continuing her education in Electrical Engineering at John Hopkins University, where she hopes to receive a Master’s Degree.
Kat Echazarreta’s journey began in Mexico, her birthplace, before moving to the United States at the age of eight. Adapting to her new home posed challenges, especially with the language barrier, but through perseverance, she became fluent in English in just two years. Her mother played a pivotal role in shaping her work ethic and encouraging her to pursue her passions, which have always included Space, Math, Astronomy, and Physics.
Echazarreta completed high school and then embarked on her higher education at San Diego City College, studying Electrical Engineering, a path marked by various challenges. Her determination led her to UCLA, where she earned her B.S. in Electrical Engineering. During her time at UCLA, she interned at NASA JPL, a stepping stone that led to a full-time engineering position. In this role, she contributed to five significant NASA missions, including Perseverance and Europa Clipper. She is currently advancing her education, pursuing a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, and has been recognized with an Honorary Doctorate for her humanitarian and technological contributions. On June 4th, 2022, Echazarreta achieved a milestone, becoming the first Mexican-born woman in space, selected by Space for Humanity for a mission to study the “Overview Effect”.
Throughout her academic and professional journey in engineering, Echazarreta was acutely aware of the gender disparity in her field. The scarcity of female role models and advisors was a significant challenge. Recognizing this gap, she is committed to mentoring girls and women who seek guidance in navigating the complexities of being a woman in STEM. Her approach is rooted in honesty about the challenges and providing encouragement to prepare them for their careers.
As an Electrical Engineer, Echazarreta has developed a deep passion for engineering education. She believes that enthusiastic instructors are crucial in developing successful engineers. Through her efforts in science and engineering communication, she aspires to bridge the gaps for students and young professionals in these fields.