Engineering degree rocketed her into aerospace job

October 05, 2020 / by / 0 Comment

Even though she graduated last spring, Madeline Bradshaw already is an associate engineer for Aerojet Rocketdyne and has clients in NASA and the Department of Defense.

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

Madeline Bradshaw

An internship in California the summer before Madeline Bradshaw’s final year at Grand Canyon University blossomed into a job offer before she even graduated last spring.

That’s not an infrequent occurrence for GCU students. But what makes Bradshaw’s leap extraordinary is she has turned her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree into an associate engineer job in which she does computer-aided design (CAD) for Aerojet Rocketdyne in Huntsville, Ala. — and has clients in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense.

The Honors College alumna knew she wanted to go into the aerospace industry, but her time in GCU’s engineering program showed her how much she enjoyed doing computer-aided design.

Bradshaw and the five F-1 engines that launched the Saturn V. The engines are housed at the Davidson Space and Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

“I do a lot of work with 3D modeling, creating 2D engineering drawings for manufacturing and helping standardize their design processes,” Bradshaw said of her new role.

It also was a leap of faith in another way: It meant living in the South, a region she never had visited while growing up in Olympia, Wash., and then coming to GCU. She was eager to get out of her comfort zone and experience a new part of the country, but the pandemic created another complication: She has had to learn her new job while working from home.

“It’s definitely crazy, but it’s been good,” she said. “It’s been interesting working from home. All of the work that we do is on the computer or over phone calls.”

Having the same professors for many of her GCU classes helped her feel comfortable creating new relationships with industry professionals. 

“There are a handful of professors that just are really great people that taught me so much and were so helpful,” she said. “I know that in a bigger program I might not necessarily get that.”

Her experience as an Honors student also played an important role in her maturity. 

Bradshaw with one of the F-1 engines in Los Angeles.

“I like to think of myself as a well-rounded person, so being in the Honors College, I had a couple extra credits that I had to take that I wouldn’t have had to take otherwise,” she said. “It gave me the opportunity to meet other people and be in different types of classes than just my typical engineering classes.”

That’s what she wants to pass on to current students: Having a well-rounded attitude and the desire to build professional relationships with others in the field are critical. 

“The biggest thing I would tell them is to get to know their professors’ backgrounds specifically and know which professors have that industry knowledge and use that knowledge to your benefit,” she said. “Get close to those professors who could really give you that experience that you don’t get in a classroom.”

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


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GCU Today: Business degree, connections prove healthy for alum

GCU Today: Honors College community still connected … online


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