Ellen Robertson - graduate student | ECE | Virginia Tech

Ellen Robertson ECE graduate student


Portrait photograph of Ellen Robertson
Ellen Robertson

Where were you born?

Blacksburg, VA

What are your hobbies?

Dancingâ??Folk, English country line, contra, swing, ballet
Readingâ??Classics and history

What's one interesting fact about you?

I worked for a year on the Space Launch System (SLS), which is the rocket Boeing is building for NASA. So I am a rocket scientist.

What are you researching? How might it impact society?

I am working with satellite instruments, specifically instruments used to learn about the environment the satellites are in.? As more of our everyday life becomes dependent on satellites, it becomes more important to understand this region of the atmosphere and how it interacts with the satellites.

In particular, I am working with a sensor that detects the energy distribution of neutral particles in the ionosphere.?  I use COMSOL multiphysics software to simulate the paths of charged particles through the instrument, then compare those results to real test data obtained in the lab.

What influenced you to choose ECE at Virginia Tech?

I did my undergraduate in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech.?  After graduating and working for a year, one of my professors called me to see if I would come back for grad school.? I also received one of the Webber fellowships, which allo...

How do you like living in Blacksburg and the surrounding area?

Blacksburg is wonderful!?  Having lived here for more than 20 years, I feel I can say that with a bit of authority.? I love the mountains and the adventure they offer.? I love how small and quiet the town becomes during Christmas break, when all the students are gone.?  I love the cows, horses, and sheep alongside the roads that lend the town authenticity and a sense of real life.? I love the history of the areaâ??the Draperâ??s Meadow settlement and the Preston family.

What is your ideal job? Why?

Something that does not involve computers all day every day, because I like working with my hands and don't like staring at screens all the time.

Do you have any comments about the value or challenges of diverse participation in a classroom, research group, or community setting?

Diversity is important as it allows people who think differently to all contribute to a project.?  However, it is a bit upsetting to feel you might have been hired somewhere just to fill someone's quota of female engineers.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

It is worth it to spend a lot of time and effort on finding an advisor as they will have a lot of influence on your disposition for many years.