It’s rare to have freshmen in the Aerospace department, but Elijah Simpson came to the University of Michigan singularly ready to become an aerospace engineer. With two parents serving as active duty in the Air Force, he’s been exposed to many aspects of aviation since he can remember, from his mom’s work on the Thunderbirds to consuming every aerospace video he could find on YouTube. As a U-M student, Simpson’s passion, talent and dedication are being recognized at U-M and beyond, notably so in his selection as a 2022 Patti Grace Smith Fellow.
The PattiGrace Smith Fellowship is specifically focused on Black students currently enrolled in the first or second year of a higher education program who are seeking their first work experience in the aerospace industry. Selected students are connected with a paid internship, two mentors, and a scholarship for the upcoming semester. Students are selected through a rigorous review process that includes aerospace industry professionals, rising-star early career employees, and corporate employers, particularly seeking scholars with an exceptional aptitude for their discipline as well as a display of creativity, ingenuity, and a commitment to serving others.
Simpson will spend his summer as a technical engineering intern at Northrop Grumman in Utah, where he says, “I’m planning to be a sponge. I want to learn how to be an integral member of the team. I plan to listen, ask questions, and form networks with new people. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.”
On being awarded this fellowship, Simpson says, “I’m ecstatic to have received the first Patti Grace Smith Fellow at U-M and hopefully set a precedent for future aero engineers and have them say I was a role model for them. It is an honor to be a part of this amazing community, and I’m excited to continue pushing for more black excellence in Aerospace.”