It’s nearly unheard of for NASA to hire engineers directly; typically, they are hired through subcontractors. But starting in July, senior electrical engineering major Alex Blum will be working full-time as a NASA test engineer in Houston.
“If I told my elementary school self that I’d be working there, I would be going crazy with excitement,” Blum says.
He will be working on NASA’s Energy Systems Test Area, helping to develop and complete tests that validate designs inside and outside of NASA.
“In general, I will specialize in large electrical power systems and battery testing,” Blum says. “With time, I hope to expand into other testing systems, like ISRU, which is taking material from other planets — like moon rocks or dust — and make necessities like water or fuel.”
Blum spent three semesters interning at NASA during his tenure at Marquette. And although he doesn’t know the exact projects he’ll be working on, he does know that his team is currently testing an electrical harness fabrication for VIPER, NASA’s newest moon rover and completing power system testing for Gateway, Artemis Mission’s new space station to orbit the moon.
“Alex has exceptional technology skills,” says Brad Bonczkiewicz, director of technology for the Opus College of Engineering. “He developed database applications for the Student Success Center and for our college equipment check out and software tracking.”
Blum’s interest in engineering started as a freshman when he began working with Marquette’s Opus College of Engineering Technology Services.
“I always preferred math and science classes, so that initially pushed me more toward tech,” Blum says. “My high school had an IT Academy. It’s a program that helped me learn programming and IT skills, provided workshops to help me prepare for finding a job and set us up with technical internships.”
Currently, Blum is the database administration intern for the Opus College of Engineering. In 2022, he was honored as Student Employee of the Year. He’s also held positions at Generac, Milwaukee Tool and NASA.
“During my last semester at NASA, I worked as a battery and power systems design engineering intern,” Blum says. “I helped with testing to make sure power systems will be able to survive the radiation levels in Earth’s orbit.”
Blum realizes that his career journey has only just begun and there’s a lot to learn, but for now, he’s taking it one day at a time.
“I have been lucky to have so many people both at and outside of Marquette pour themselves into me. It’s hard to put into words my feelings about starting my position at NASA,” Blum says.
‘Ready for liftoff’ is the latest piece in Marquette Today’s Commencement Series. Read more stories of how our graduates are setting off to Be The Difference beyond campus:
- Following in their fathers’ footsteps
- Helping at home: New Marquette Law School grad to help asylum seekers in native south Texas
- Mission of service: Nursing seniors graduate with expertise in veterans’ care
- Full circle: Senior co-op with Findorff helps build O’Brien Hall — and leads to full-time job with construction firm
- For one senior, Commencement address will have family ties