Diversity in Aerospace PANELISTS

Friday, September 3, 2021 from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Colorado School of Mines

Miguel Ayala

Co-founder and CEO at Aphelion Aerospace

Miguel has more than 20 years of experience in engineering, leadership, and management of multidisciplinary engineering teams developing aircraft, launch vehicles, spacecraft, and associated ground support equipment in high-profile government and commercial space programs. Miguel is passionate about contributing to groundbreaking innovations in space exploration and aerospace transportation. With the intent of becoming an effective well-rounded leader, he has devoted his entire career to gaining a broad background in engineering and leadership, encompassing: small startups and large corporations; design, analysis, test, and manufacturing; propulsion, structures, mechanisms, and thermo-fluid systems; technical leadership; project and people management. Previous programs include ULA Vulcan rocket at Belcan, Orion spacecraft and A2100 satellites at Lockheed Martin, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets at SpaceX, aircraft GNC at L3Harris, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 aircraft engines and ISS habitat module at Honeywell, and NASA Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster processing at Northrop Grumman. Miguel holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA. He also holds Bachelor’s degrees in both Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering from Arizona State University.


Vanessa Clark

Co-founder and CEO at Atomos Space

Vanessa is cofounder and CEO of Atomos Space, a space startup with 22 employees based in Denver Colorado. Originally from Australia, a physicist and aerospace engineer by training, Vanessa worked in Germany for Airbus Defense and Space and DLR (the German Aerospace Centre) in advanced rocket and spacecraft design. Relocating to the US in 2015, she led rocket engine development for programs including Artemis. She cofounded Atomos Space in early 2018 with the goal to solve one of the biggest problems in the space industry: getting spacecraft to high orbits or to deep space.


Sierra Gonzales

Spacecraft Software Systems Engineer and Test Engineer at Lockheed Martin Space

Sierra Gonzales began her career at Lockheed Martin Space as a college intern working on the commercial side and applied much of her knowledge and experience in 3D modeling and 3D printing. She jumped into the OSIRIS-REx program right after college as a Systems Engineer and trained as a Real-time Operator. Now she has transitioned into the Software Systems Engineering role as well as a Test Engineering role with Nasa’s Simplex programs. She has both an Bachelor’s of Science and Master’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nevada-Reno and is currently working on a Space Systems Certificate from the University of Denver. In her free time, she plays Double Bass with the Denver Pops, enjoys snowboarding, baking asteroid themed desserts, and watching basketball.


Sr. Systems Engineer at Ursa Major Technologies


Manufacturing Engineer at Ball Aerospace


NSF Graduate Research Fellow at University of Colorado Boulder

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