ASU Space Grant intern, Ritisha Das, among the Class of 2024 Brooke Owens Fellows!

ASU Space Grant intern, Ritisha Das, among the Class of 2024 Brooke Owens Fellows!

Feb. 5, 2024
Ritisha Das headshot.


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January 30, 2024 | Washington, DC

The Brooke Owens Fellowship—a nationally acclaimed nonprofit program recognizing exceptional undergraduate women and gender minorities with space and aviation internships, senior mentorship, and a lifelong professional network—announces its Class of 2024 Brooke Owens Fellows 

The Class of 2024 marks the eighth class of “Brookie” Fellows. The 47 Fellows were selected through a fair and extremely competitive application process involving written and creative submissions, interviews with the Fellowship’s leadership team and its close network, and interviews with leading aerospace employers from across multiple sectors in the U.S. aerospace industry. Over 450 promising and talented students submitted their applications, coming from Ivy League universities, major research universities, historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s), liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and major international universities. The Fellows were selected based on their incredible talent, desire to pursue a career in aerospace, stand-out creative abilities, record of leadership, and most importantly commitment to their communities.

The Brooke Owens Fellows will each be matched to an executive-level mentor in the aerospace industry who will support and work with the Fellows to help launch their careers in addition to a Brookie Alumni Mentor. This summer, the Fellows will start their internships and come together in July for the annual Brooke Owens Summit in Washington, DC. The Class of 2024 will also become part of the network of almost 350+ Brookie alumni spanning all aspects of space and aviation including engineering, scientific research, policy, journalism, and entrepreneurship.

Ritisha (Risha) Das is a senior and Flinn Scholar enrolled in the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University, double majoring in mathematics and mechanical engineering with an emphasis in computational mechanics. Falling in love with the magic of space and stars ever since she read the children’s book “Amanda Visits the Planets”, Risha has dreamed of working on satellites and helping design other vehicles for space. That is why she is so excited to have received the Brooke Owens Fellowship where she will be interning with Airbus US Space & Defense as a systems engineer.

Endlessly passionate about research, Risha has also worked on various projects in her undergraduate career. Just as a sophomore, Risha was published as first author for developing an AI network to generate breast cancer lesion models for virtual clinical trials in Belgium’s local hospitals. This last summer, she interned through the prestigious DAAD-Rise Germany program at the Hamburg University of Technology to implement impact algorithms in MATLAB. Currently, as a senior, she is utilizing computer simulations to explore how the initial mantle temperature affected Mars’ planetary development through the NASA/ASU Space Grant internship program while also designing a medical implant valve model to treat hydrocephalus (excess fluid in the skull) for her Honors Undergraduate Thesis.

Risha also serves as the President of two major organizations, Women in STEM and the Model United Nations (MUN) Debate Team at her university. Dedicated to improving the quality of local AZ K-12 education, she has started an outreach program, leveraging the resources of ASU’s Women in STEM to reach middle- and high-school students at under-funded schools. She is facilitating school visits with talks meant to demystify college for girls/non-binary youth, emphasize accessibility and feasibility of STEM for all children, and engage their interest through live demonstrations of science experiments. She dreams of reforming global & domestic policies to procure more inclusive accessible spaces for minorities to receive their STEM degrees.

Hand in hand, she has been President & Secretary General of the Model UN Team at ASU for three years. She believes it is significant to reflect on the legal, ethical, and social consequences of engineering and has found that a love for global affairs instills that discipline. Risha has won numerous awards for her written work and delegate performance at conferences spanning the North American Model UN Competition all the way to Switzerland. Currently, for the first time in ASU’s history, she is also training her university team to compete at the Harvard World Model UN Competition, dubbed the “Olympics” of MUN, in Taiwan. To top it all off, she adores her time tutoring refugee children through the ASU Refugee Integration Stability and Education program during her weekends.

In her free time, you can find Risha globe-trotting (16 countries and counting!), singing jazz, writing novels, rewatching & crying to Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, and riffing on the piano. Ultimately, Risha dreams of applying all she has learned to become an astronaut, as she strives to pioneer an aerospace career in service of interdisciplinary exploration, science, and equity.