Grad Member Spotlight: Alexandra Long

27 June 2016


Alexandra Long

PhD student, Aerospace Engineering, graduating May 2018

Georgia Institute of Technology


Alexandra has been highly involved with the Georgia Tech Grad SWE as Industry Relations Chair for 1.5 years and on the GT Grad SWE Board for one semester. She has been awarded the NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship, the Clare Boothe Luce Fellowship, and was a 2015 Ewha-Luce International Seminar participant in Seoul, Korea. Congratulations, Alexandra, on all you’ve done! Keep up the great work!


What is your degree program (MS/PhD, department)? When do you expect to graduate?

PhD, aerospace engineering. Expected graduation: May 2018 


Give a brief explanation of your research.

I am designing an aerodynamically stable deployable drag sail to deorbit small satellites (100-150 kg) from high Low-Earth Orbit altitudes (850-1200 km) within 25 years to meet international orbital debris mitigation guidelines. Drag sails are similar to solar sails in that they are thin membranes supported by booms, and normally flat. My sail is a pyramid shape to ensure that the largest area is facing the flow, and if it is disturbed from its nominal position, it will create a restoring torque to move it back to its position.


What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?

I am hoping to work at a national lab or NASA center working on novel concepts for deployable space structures. I want to be able to work in a lab testing out new ideas to see if they could work on spacecraft. I can see myself going back to academia to teach, but not right away.


What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

I love reading science fiction and fantasy books because of the worlds they create and the issues that they approach in a less threatening context because the world is different. I am an avid crocheter. I love working with nice, soft yarn to create all kinds of projects like hats, socks, shawls and blankets. I feel like it is a more creative way to feed my engineer’s desire to create. I also enjoy hiking, watching netflix, and playing video games.


What’s a fun fact about you?

I am the youngest of three daughters in my family, and when I graduated with my B.S., I completed the 6th full generation of women on my mother’s side to graduate from college. Every woman in those 6 generations earned their college degree. That is about as long as women have been allowed to go to college in this country. 

I also have a titanium rod in my lower left leg from when I broke my leg during a particularly violent game of capture the flag in early high school.  


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