Arowolo and Destin Earn Prestigious Fellowship to Gain Experience in Aerospace Industry

Author: Teresa Walker
Event Date: April 7, 2022
First-Year Engineering students Muyiwa Arowolo and Armand Destin are each taking a giant leap into the aerospace industry this summer through an opportunity that they each applied for, the prestigious Patti Grace Smith Fellowship.

The fellowship was established in 2020 as an official spin-off of the award-winning Brooke Owens Fellowship to provide extraordinary Black students with their first work experience in the aerospace industry, personalized mentorship, and a cohort of similarly driven and talented young Black people pursuing aerospace careers. Fellows are matched with a summer internship at a leading aerospace company or institution including Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and SpaceX. 

Patti Grace Smith 2022 Fellows
Armand Destin and Muyiwa Arolowo in the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering

Muyiwa, a Bolingbrook, Illinois native and in Honors Engineering, will be working at Sierra Nevada Corporation in Centennial, CO. “This is going to be a first experience for me in many different regards. I'll be a test engineering intern, and I'll be getting hands-on experience working on some aircraft. I hope to develop a lot of my engineering skills at SNC and be a valuable contributor to whatever task I'm assigned.  I am grateful to be able to work at a company like SNC that focuses on my field of interest. I'm looking forward to the challenge!” 

For Armand from Damascus, Maryland, she will be on the other side of the United States gaining a different type of experience. “This summer I will be interning at Space Capital located in New York. I will be researching and providing recommendations alongside the investment team. I am looking forward to gaining new skills and knowledge as I explore the vast companies and ideas of the aerospace industry.”

These two Boilermakers are connected beyond the fellowship and funny enough didn’t know the other had applied. They originally met at the Purdue University Minority Engineering Program’s Engineering Academic Boot Camp last summer.  Since then, their network allowed them both to learn about the fellowship through different Purdue communication. “I heard from a message in a GroupMe with former and current members of the Minority Engineering Program. Apparently, we heard through the same individual, but in different ways,” said Muyiwa. This semester, both students selected Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, ranked #5 nationally, as their top choice through First-Year Engineering’s Transition to Major process. 

Childhood Dreams into Giant Leaps

As far back as they each can remember, Muyiwa and Armand have had creative, building skills with dreams of pursuing a career in engineering. “When I was a kid, I found myself building and designing. I did so by finding a base for the design and building it from the bottom up. Specifically, these little “projects” consisted of mostly rockets and spaceships. My favorite part was always testing the final result. Even though the majority of those designs were not successful, I knew that in the future, with hard work, I could do it and be successful as an engineer,” said Armand. Before attending Purdue, Armand graduated from Damascus High School in her hometown. 

Photo: Armand visiting Kennedy Space Center in January 2006

Her dreams are now a reality. “Aerospace engineering has been my dream since I was a kid. At that time, I did not know the terminology for someone who builds spacecraft, but I did know what the job was. For a career, I would like to specialize in astronautical engineering and with a discipline in propulsion,” said Armand.

Muyiwa’s story is the same. “Ever since I was little, I've always taken an interest in figuring things out, whether that be through deciphering how certain things work, solving problems, or determining how to create something. As I grew older, this trait persisted. Engineering felt like the natural choice for someone like me to pursue. I feel that becoming an engineer will allow me to exercise both my creative and technical skills.” Aerospace engineering, for Muyiwa, provides a wide-open landscape with unlimited opportunities. “I feel that there's a lot of potential in the field of AAE to improve the world in new and unique ways. There's just so much we haven't discovered yet, especially concerning space. I hope to work as an engineer on cool projects, at whatever organization that may be at,” said Muyiwa. Before coming to Purdue, Muyiwa graduated from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, Illinois. 

More about Muyiwa and Armand

Why Purdue

Muyiwa visiting Purdue University
Muyiwa under the iconic Purdue University Arch known as the "Gateway to the Future"

Muyiwa:  Purdue was my top choice college! I came here on a tour with my sister after she had been admitted to the school, and I really enjoyed the community and the overall feel. While my sister didn't end up committing to Purdue, I ended up applying here, and ultimately being accepted. I've enjoyed my time here so far - it's been everything I expected it to be and more. I'd like to give a shoutout to the Minority Engineering Program (MEP) for helping me get to where I am as a student and for helping me earn this internship opportunity. MEP is a great organization that I cannot recommend getting involved with enough.

In addition to pursuing a degree in engineering, Muyiwa is also taking full advantage of the relatively new certificate in music technology from the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance Division of Music in the College of Liberal Arts. “Music has always been a big part of my life, and I'm glad that I can stay involved at Purdue.”

Armand: I chose Purdue because of its great engineering program and the inclusiveness it provides. The first year of engineering has been a rigorous pathway already and I have lots of support to get me to the next step. My highlight so far at Purdue has to be the beginning of my college experience by participating in the Minority Engineering Program: Engineering Academic Boot Camp during the summer of 2021.

Top 3 Skills Learned in First-Year Engineering


  • Coding! I didn't have much coding experience before coming to Purdue, so I'm grateful to have gotten some experience in languages like C++, Matlab, and Python. (From ENGR 133, VIP 17920, VIP 17911, VIP 47920, CS159, PHYS172)
  • Electronics (Basic Circuits) (From ENGR 133, VIP 17920, VIP 47920). This wasn't really a skill I had thought about before coming to Purdue.
  • Problem-Solving (From ENGR 133, VIP 17920, VIP 17911, VIP 47920, MA courses... really, all of my Purdue Courses.) Being in such a challenging program has pushed me to find new ways to learn, collaborate, and complete tasks. I feel that I've undergone a lot of development at an intellectual level.


As a First-Year Engineering student, I was enrolled in Engineering 131 and am currently taking Engineering 132. In these courses, I have gained three valuable skills every engineer needs - communication, leadership, and organizational skills.

Related: Meet the 2022 Class of 39 fellows