Hannah Levin always knew she wanted to study engineering. In fact, when she first was looking at colleges as a high school junior, she fell in love with BU because of all the opportunities it presented in the engineering department.
“I remember touring the rocket team lab and seeing a bunch of the stuff that engineers without borders,” Levin explained. “Out of all the schools I visited, there was nowhere else that offered so much so many cool opportunities to actually do real engineering as a student.”
She started her integration into the engineering community pretty early into her time at BU, electing to stay on the Engineering Floor in Warren Towers during her freshman year and surrounding herself with her peers. In one of her first memories at BU, Levin recalls walking into the common room just a week after move in and seeing a group of students trying to convert a fan into an air conditioner.
“I remember walking into the common room and a bunch of guys were just sitting on the floor with a fan, like one of those square fans, and they had a bunch of piping and zip ties,” Levin said. She explained that she remembered just thinking, ‘Okay I live on an engineering floor, this is happening.’
At BU she immersed herself into her field of study, involving herself with campus groups like Engineers without Borders, but the thing that stands out the most is her extensive contribution and work for Professor Brian Walsh’s Space Technology Lab.
She first heard of the opportunity in her Sophomore year in the EK210 class she was taking. Impressed with her work, her lab instructor, Aleks Zosuls, thought that she would be a good fit for the lab and recommended she give it a try. Intrigued by the project, she joined the team and started work on the structures team of the ANDESITE, a Space-Based Wireless Sensor Network that worked as a CubeSat carrying smaller sensors that would then be ejected into the environment for high-resolution sensing of space and atmospheric environments. Levin explained that while there had been missions that had done similar research before, none had done it at the resolution that the ANDESITE team was aiming for because the other missions’ data points had been spatially further away.
The summer after her sophomore year, Levin stayed on campus at BU and closely worked with all the different teams on the project. “I worked in the lab over the summer and I spent basically that entire summer holed up in epic,” she said with a laugh. “It was great, it taught me how to use all the machines and it let me bond with the people who work in epic, which is really nice when you’re doing things in there for a school because then they know that you know what you’re doing,” she explained.
The next step in the project was to test and verify if the design could successfully go to space and withstand the vibrations of a rocket launch. As part of the testing process, Levin flew to Albuquerque along with one of her teammates to test out the satellite on a military base. “It’s really weird taking a satellite on an airplane,” she exclaimed. “The tsa is less weird about it than you’d expect them to be.”
Levin was thrilled to watch the tests being performed and later helped the team analyze the data gathered from it.”It was just kinda cool to be there and have that experience,” she said. “And then to like look at this design that I had poured a year of my life into and see how it works.”
Over the past year Levin’s major focus on the team has been gradually handing over the reins to those coming after her and teaching them the ropes to ensure that they were prepared to take over once she graduated in May. “I’ve been sort of teaching them about the satellite and also about how to machine things and general engineering stuff, which has been really, really nice for me,” she said. “It’s been a great experience, almost like a culmination of all my work, and I really like being able to talk to the younger kids and mentor them.”
To her juniors she extends a piece of advice that she wishes she had followed. “Try lots of things!” she says. “Activities, classes, clubs, foods, etc. You never know what you like until you’ve tried it.” Levin explains that the only twinge of regret she feels is from the fact that she never involved herself in activities outside engineering while at college.
She expands on this advice from her own experience of challenging oneself to do more..”When you are trying new things, you’re probably going to run into a lot of stuff you don’t know how to do and you’re going to make a lot of mistakes, but don’t let that deter you,” Levin concluded. “Just keep powering through and after enough time you’ll learn, and you’ll look back on things that are now second nature to you and be amazed that you ever had trouble with them.”
Levin is currently working with the Space Systems group at the MIT Lincoln Labs.