Alumni Spotlight: Alexa Miller

Alexa Miller is a 2016 Miami graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. She is currently working as a team lead in rocket engines development at Blue Origin. More specifically, she works on the engine integration team, on their upper stage engine, BE-3U.

When she’s not at work, Miller loves engaging in outdoor activities like hiking, walking her dogs, and snowshoeing. She also makes watercolor greeting cards for family and friends and has recently taken up sewing plenty of seasonally-patterned bow ties for puppies.

When asked about the adjustment from college to the outside world, she talked about how the first three to six months were a difficult transition for her. “At Miami, everything is so student-centric and, while you definitely have to reach for opportunities and chart your own path, there’s a bit of a roadmap for what that looks like, or at least a series of options for building that roadmap,” Miller said.

After graduation, she transitioned into a development rotation program, which was a very helpful way to learn and grow at a company for her. Miller didn’t expect the extent to which your future career path is fully up to you, lacking a checklist or a set of instructions. She talked about how she was underwhelmed too early when transitioning into her job, but after settling in and coming to that realization, it was easy to embrace it and it has just gotten easier ever since. 

Her official title at Blue Origin is an Integrated Product Team Lead, which means that she leads the cross functional team that is responsible for delivering it’s final engine configurations as well as a subset of the associated hardware on a day-to-day basis. Her team consists of design engineers, materials engineers, manufacturing engineers, structural analysts, fluid analysts, and thermal analysts, as well as other supporting function representatives. She is responsible for her team’s plans, such as what scope they’re going after, how many people they need from the various functions, what their schedule and budget looks like, etc. From there, Miller spends her time working with the team to execute that plan.

Miller is very much a team player and values her work environment and the relationships within it. A challenge she often has to face as a result of this is that, whenever the dynamic gets off, she gets stuck on it until it can be resolved. She never stops reading, thinking and talking about what good leadership looks like to her.

Blue Origin recently had it’s third human flight on their New Shepard vehicle. Miller works on the second stage engine of New Glenn, which draws some heritage from the New Shepard engine (BE-3PM).

 “It was super inspiring to watch that team fly humans for the first time this year,” she said when asked about her company’s accomplishments.

When asked about the job hunting process, Miller gave a few suggestions for future graduates. First, she emphasized how helpful internships are, as they help build your resume, strengthen your interview, and target your job search. A second tip was to attend career fairs, as the number of opportunities there is a great way to apply to a bunch of roles, practice your interviewing skills, and see what fits you best. Finally, Miller says she never found a shortage of folks willing to help at Miami between advisors, her professors within the CEC, peer mentors and alumni mentorship programs. 

Even without an internship, Miller said that there are so many opportunities to build a student’s experience with undergraduate research or student organizations. In all these ways, Miller talked about how Miami’s CEC helped prepare her best for her future career.

By Gabby Benedict, CEC Reporter