July 20, 2018
Student Spotlight: Tepper MBA Lands Two Internships in the Space Industry
“I was very focused on the space industry because I was very passionate about space in my childhood,” Arun Ramasami said. The Tepper School MBA student had spent five years working as a hardware and software design engineer at Intel after earning his master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering but was interested in learning more about business.
In his research on MBA programs, two schools bubbled to the surface as top choices: the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Tepper School. One key factor that the two schools share was a student club focused on the space industry. Through his first year at the Tepper School, Ramasami became very involved with Students at Tepper for Astronautics, Rockets & Space (STARS), an organization created last year by Mike Provenzano and Anna Lawrence, both MBA ’18.
In September, Ramasami’s team won the Space Innovation Challenge hosted by STARS. He credits this experience as a key reason his resume drew the interest of both Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, two of the most prominent companies in the space industry. He spent 12 weeks this spring at Blue Origin and is currently completing a summer internship at SpaceX.
Through the STARS club, Ramasami learned of opportunities with several companies in the space industry. Provenzano, whom Ramasami credited as a key mentor, encouraged Ramasami to apply for internships with Blue Origin and SpaceX. He completed online applications in October and was quickly contacted by both companies. After two rounds of technical interviews and required presentations, each offered him an internship by mid-November. “I wanted to do an internship in one of these two companies. Fortunately, I got into both of them,” he said.
Each internship called for someone with significant technical knowledge pursuing an MBA who demonstrated a high level of interest in the space industry. “I had something to put in my resume related to the space industry,” Ramasami said of his Space Innovation Challenge win. “That is what I think actually got me to the first phone calls with HR.”
One of Ramasami’s challenges would be scheduling. The Blue Origin internship would take place between March 12 and June 1, spanning the entirety of Mini 4. He said he was very grateful to Student Services for their flexibility, allowing him to postpone some of his coursework in order to accommodate the opportunity.
Business Development and Product Management
In both internships, Ramasami’s primary role involved building financial models and developing pricing strategies. He identified potential customers and spoke with them about their needs and resources. In addition, part of his role at SpaceX this summer will be analyzing the product design process and making recommendations for how the company can ensure it is creating the best products it can.
At Blue Origin, Ramasami was involved with the Blue Moon project, a new lunar lander. “Right now, many private companies and countries are interested in going back to the moon because of a recently discovered water source,” he said. Because rocket fuel is primarily composed of hydrogen and oxygen, the elements can be extracted from water in space, allowing for fuel stations. “Having that, you can actually explore more in deep space. Right now, we haven’t explored anything beyond the solar system.”
Over the summer, Ramasami will be involved with SpaceX’s Starlink project to create a network of satellites in Earth’s orbit intended to provide broadband internet across the globe. “Half of the population in the world doesn’t have internet access,” Ramasami said, “so this project actually provides internet access through satellites.”
After the Internship
Ramasami is one of the James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellows, an opportunity for Carnegie Mellon students interested in entrepreneurial pursuits to receive education and support toward their ventures. “My long-term goal is to become an entrepreneur in the space industry and in future emerging technologies,” he said. In addition to his entrepreneurship, he will focus his MBA studies on operations and marketing, in an effort to build a well-rounded business education and prepare him for running his own company. He will return to STARS this fall as its co-president.
“I learned a ton of information from these two valuable internships,” he said. He intends to use his experiences toward improving lives around the world using technology to advance human services.