Colloquia and Events

During the academic year, the Department hosts a weekly colloquium series which features speakers from both academia and industry.  This semester (Fall 2019) the colloquia take place on Thursdays from 3:15-4:30 pm in BIOS 335.  Refreshments are served at 3:15 pm and talks begin at 3:30 pm.

This week's colloquium

"Becoming a Rocket Scientist"
Kaeli Flaczinski, SpaceX
Thursday, Sept. 19, 3:15 pm in BIOS 335

I grew up in Southern California racing quads from age 12 to 21. Fixing quads is where my love for mechanical assemblies and hand on work came from. During high school, I did not drown myself in AP classes, but instead took hard math and science classes only, so I could focus on racing but still be prepared for college in the field I was interested in. After high school, I went to USC for my bachelor’s degree in astronautical engineering. I had two internships during college; the first was at Ducommun Aerospace in Monrovia, CA and the second was at Virgin Galactic (now Virgin Orbit) in Carson, CA. During my last semester of school, I applied for a position at SpaceX and ultimately got the job.

I started at SpaceX in January of 2015 as a build engineer on the Fairing. During my 3 years on the team, I worked to improve the encapsulation process (putting the two fairing halves together), improve the movement of Fairings through the assembly line, re-vamp the assembly instructions for the current Fairing, develop the tooling and manufacturing process for a portion of the new, reusable Fairing 2.0, and ultimately help build the qualification unit and first 7 flight units of Fairing 2.0. After Fairing, I transitioned to the Crew Dragon team and took on the seats inside of the capsule that will eventually fly astronauts. I am responsible for the entire manufacturing process of seats from lamination through assembly, testing, and painting until they are ready to be installed in the capsule. My day to day job involves working with vendors to manufacture piece parts, writing instructions for the technicians to build the flight parts, finding solutions to any issues discovered during the build, managing the schedule of the builds, and determining the overall manufacturing strategy for building the parts.

SpaceX is such an incredible place to work and I love working with such a talented team. Every day when I go to work, I know that the time I put in will ultimately make a difference in the company and that drives my to do my best and work hard. We are working on brand new concepts and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and that is the most rewarding feeling. Being a part of a company that is making new milestones and changing history really inspires you to be your best. In the future, I hope to move into a leadership position where I can share my experience with new employees and help them become well rounded engineers that love what they do as much as I do. SpaceX has lots of exciting new projects ahead such as Starship and Starlink that I hope to be a part of once I finish my current project.


Upcoming colloquia

Sept. 26: Prof. Jing Xia, UC Irvine, "Studying 2D magnetism and superconductivity with a Sagnac MOKE microscope"

Oct. 3: Dr. Gustavo Turiaci, UC Santa Barbara, TBA

Oct. 10: Prof. Eric Hudson, UCLA, TBA

Oct. 17: Dr. John (Jeb) Bailey, UC Santa Barbara, TBA

Oct. 24: Prof. Alex Small, Cal Poly Pomona, TBA

Oct. 31: Prof. Silvia Heubach, Cal State LA, TBA

Nov. 7: Prof. Sattar Taheri-Araghi, CSU Northridge, TBA

Nov. 14: Prof. Marina Mondin, Cal State LA, TBA

Nov. 21: Dr. Yung-Chen Lin, Infineon Technologies, TBA


Previous colloquia (2019-20)

Sept. 12: Prof. Yongtao Cui, UC San Riverside, "Imaging Topological States in Two-Dimensional Quantum Materials"

Sept. 5: Dr. Raul Herrera, UC San Diego, "Iterative Methods in Nuclear Structure Symmetry and the Weak Nuclear Force"

Aug. 29: Prof. Elizabeth Read, UC Irvine, "Noisy Dynamics in the Epigenome: Insights from Mathematical Modeling and Statistical Inference"