A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Patriot Profile: Sidney Boakye

By Mason Spirit contributor on August 17, 2021


Year: Senior

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Woodbridge, Virginia

Sidney Boakye. Photo by Ron Aira/Creative Services

Many people dream of being an astronaut and rocketing into outer space, but senior Sidney Boakye just landed an opportunity that launches him closer to that lifelong aspiration. Boakye is the first George Mason University student to be awarded the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship, a highly selective internship, mentorship, and networking program for students interested in spaceflight.

To Boldly Go Where No Patriot Has Gone Before: “I have dreamed of becoming a rocket engineer since I was 10,” says Boakye. As an Isakowitz fellow, he will receive a paid summer internship at Rocket Lab, one of the program’s host companies. He will also be paired with a notable commercial space industry leader as his mentor.

On Networking: Boakye was drawn to this fellowship because of the way the program embeds recipients within the commercial space industry. “I know I will learn a lot from this experience,” he says. “At the end of the summer, there is also a big networking event where we get to meet other fellows and commercial spaceflight professionals, so I will also get to meet like-minded people.”

On the Fast Track: When Boakye came to Mason, he knew he wanted to pursue mechanical engineering. Now he is graduating a year early, but that shortened timeline did not keep him from immersing himself in Mason Nation. In addition to being a community assistant for Mason Housing, he has served on different executive boards across such organizations as the Mason chapters of the American Society for Mechanical Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers, Engineers for International Development, and SatCom GMU. “I am graduating in three years instead of the traditional four years, but it was important for me to plan in time to get involved in clubs,” he says.

Out of This World: As a project lead for SatCom GMU, Boakye channeled his fascination with space into devising and building a CubeSat, which is a miniature cube-shaped satellite. “Large satellites have a lot of functions, but CubeSats are much smaller with limited capabilities. We got to design and build one that actually hitched a ride into space on NASA’s NG014 in October 2020.”

Pursuing Opportunities: Boakye may be the first, but he hopes he isn’t the last Mason student to be chosen for the prestigious fellowship. He urges all students to get involved and seek out opportunities on and off Mason’s campuses. “There are plenty of opportunities like this out there to go for. At Mason, you can find clubs and organizations that can also give you experience in what you enjoy and expose you to new things.”

—Ryley McGinnis


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