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22-Year-Old MIT Senior Makes History as Engineer for NASA

Tiera Guinn, 22, said the film “Hidden Figures” inspired her and is now her favorite movie.

The average college senior hasn’t started his/her career before graduation, but this 22-year-old MIT student is well on her way to living a dream seemingly ripped from the Oscar-nominated film “Hidden Figures.”

Just months shy of graduating with her degree in aeronautics and astronautics, Tiera Guinn is already working as a rocket structural design and analysis engineer for the space launch system that aircraft company Boeing is building for NASA. The rocket, which Guinn described as one of the largest and most powerful in history, is intended to take humans to Mars.

“I design components for the rocket itself,” Guinn told WBRC News. “And then, I analyze them and make sure they’re structurally sound, which means that they don’t break, that they don’t deform.”

The MIT student said she’s had dreams of becoming an aerospace engineer since she was a little girl and credited her mom, who noticed her intelligence at an early age, for encouraging her to hone her math skills — at the grocery store.

“When [my mom and I] would go to the grocery store, she would get me to clip coupons [and] put it in my coupon organizer,” Guinn explained. “By the time we got to the register, I’d have to calculate the exact total, including tax. And I did that since I was 6 years old.”

The soon-to-be grad said she picked her middle school classes with precision and traveled an hour to the Atlanta-area high school she felt would best put her on the pathway to becoming an aerospace engineer at NASA. Her story of success could easily be a sequel to the moving narrative played out onscreen in the film “Hidden Figures,” which outperformed “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in its opening week and has grossed over $130 million domestically. The film tells the story of the three African-American female engineers who broke barriers at NASA during the 1960s.

Guinn called the film “inspirational” and one of her new favorite movies.

“You should see Black women as rocket propulsion engineers, as rocket structural analysts and design engineers,” she told the news station. “You should see more women in the CEO positions.”

With an engineer position at NASA already locked up, Guinn is slated to graduate from MIT with a 5.0 GPA. She advises young girls looking to follow in her footsteps to stay focused on their goal(s) but also be prepared to face a few challenges along the way.

“You have to look forward to your dream and you can’t let anybody get in the way of it,” she said. “No matter how tough it may be, no matter how many tears you might cry, you have to keep pushing. And you have to understand that nothing comes easy. Keeping your eyes on the prize, you can succeed.”

WBRC FOX6 News – Birmingham, AL

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