As someone who struggled with mathematics in high school, Denisse Aranda never imagined she’d pursue a career in mechanical engineering.

Graduating from high school at 17, Aranda wanted to spend her days following one of her many passions—dancing. But after taking an astronomy class at FIU and exploring all the available degrees, Aranda realized mechanical engineering was the one major that resonated with her.

Aranda worked at NASA for eight years and recently joined the space exploration company, Blue Origin, founded by Jeff Bezos, founder, CEO and president of Amazon.

The FIU journey

At FIU, Aranda made it a point to say, “yes!” to all opportunities. She joined the Applied Research Center (ARC) as an undergraduate researcher. There she worked as a research scientist, investigating ways to store and transport radioactive waste materials from the Department of Energy sites.

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