FIRST Alumna Spotlight: Betsy Soukup

Sep 05, 2017 Written by Betsy Soukup FIRST Alum

We caught up with FIRST Alum Betsy Soukup from Team StuyPulse #694, from Stuyvesant High School in New York, who is now working at SpaceX in California.


Betsy Soukup, rocket photoBetsy, what did you do after becoming a FIRST Alum?

I went to MIT and studied Mechanical Engineering. I really liked how hands-on it was, and that you could see a finished product.  I enjoy math and science where there is a clear right answer, but with engineering there is an opportunity for creativity. Then I went to Stanford for my Master’s Degree in Engineering.  While I was there, I did a product design internship because I wanted to get into a specialty further. I found that it was very similar to being on a FIRST team, and by my second year I knew that product design was what I wanted to do.  Now I am working at SpaceX, working on integration and test engineering for Falcon Heavy.  Basically, I am the interface between the designers and the technicians to make sure the tests and installations are run correctly.


What are your future plans?

I really enjoy product design, and I like thinking about products and how people interact with them. Ultimately, I would like to go back into that sort of work.  Product consulting would be great because I could be involved with many different, diverse projects.


How has your FIRST experience impact your post-graduation life?

My experience with a FIRST robotics team in high school has been a huge influence on my desire to be an engineer. I loved it and learned about CAD, using machine tools, and learned technical skills. I got great leadership and project management experience, and learned a sense of independence.  Being on a large team, I learned how to work with a group and how to delegate. I also got exposure to companies like McMaster, learned how to order parts, how to make a prototype, and how build without wasting time. Being involved with FIRST helped me later in life because it gave me real world engineering experience, even using the brands that engineers use in the real world.


You’ve continued to be involved with FIRST as an Alum; what have you been up to?Betsy Soukup, robot photo

This year I volunteered at the LA Regional in Long Beach as a Robot Inspector.  I was reminded how impressive FIRST is, and how amazing the work is that the teams do.


You shared that you’ve made and kept great FIRST friends – any advice to current Participants on how to do that?

Some members of my team are working at SpaceX too, as are other FIRST alum!  Keep in touch with people, and join LinkedIn. That is how SpaceX reached out to me.   


You’ve had mentors, or mentored others, through FIRST; what advice do you have to share with others? 

Being on a robotics team is a massive time commitment, for both kids and mentors. My advice would be to work hard on time management, and figure out how to fit it all in:  FIRST stuff, homework, and taking care of yourself. It’s exhausting, but I loved it. Learn all you can from your mentors.  When I was a freshman, my role model was the team president and I admired her technical and engineering skills.


Keep an eye on for more FIRST Alumni Spotlights. Share your story and you may be featured next time.

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