Meet the team behind Volansi’s flying robots. Each week we share stories from the team at Volansi highlighting their journey to joining the team, how they help keep our drones taking off, and some quirky fun along the way.

Sarah Kaye

Title at Volansi: Senior Systems Engineer

Joined the team: 2021

Hometown: Lake Stevens, WA

Tell us a little bit about your background and the work you did before joining the Volansi team?

I graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. During my time at Poly, I spent two summers in Southern California interning. My first internship was at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory where I worked as a flight systems engineer on the Mars 2020 Rover. The focus of my internship was verification and validation planning based on leveraging work done on the Curiosity Rover. My second internship was at SpaceX where I worked as a vehicle engineer on the second stage of Falcon 9. I supported the Falcon 9 Block 5 upgrade, which included redesigning test equipment for the new configuration, final vehicle integration and issue dispositions.

When I graduated, I started Blue Origin’s New Graduate Rotation Program. I spent a year rotating around the company focusing on design, analysis and test. For my first rotation, I worked as a Systems Engineer on the Advanced Development Program’s lunar lander program, Blue Moon. Then for my third rotation, I worked as a structural analyst on the New Glenn second stage tanks team. Finally, for my third rotation, I led a risk reduction test campaign for New Glenn’s In-Space Propulsion team. Upon completing the program, I permanently joined the Blue Moon team as a System Engineer.

During my time on Blue Moon, we completed several NASA design maturation contracts. This included the Human Landing System competition which Blue Origin was the prime for. Blue offered a three element architecture with our National Team partners Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper Labs. During this time, I was the lunar lander Requirements, Verification, Validation and Certification Lead.

In your own words, what do you do at Volansi?

At Volansi, I am standing up Systems Engineering. I am creating the foundational blocks necessary to take our products through the product lifecycle. Some key elements include system definition, requirements verification and validation, integration and test, and system safety. The objective is to create clear system boundaries, drive to consistent specifications, decrease ambiguity, manage complexity and connect key information together.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have two puppies that require A LOT of attention, so I am constantly at parks or rivers playing with them. In addition, I love mountain biking and rock climbing!

Who are your heroes in aviation, drone, or logistics history? Why?

My heroes are actually my mentors. I have been so fortunate to learn from truly inspiring and brilliant people. Two that stand out include Lauren Lyons (Firefly COO) and Ben Cichy (Blue Origin SEIT Lead). Lauren taught me to trust myself, to bring out the best in people, and to push back on things that are non-value added. Ben is the definition of a “systems thinker”. He showed me how to look at things through so many different lenses and how to decompose a very complex system.

We are in the dawn of unmanned flight and autonomous mobility. What are the applications that excite you most?

I am excited about the commercial application of autonomous mobility. It is incredible that we can get to hard-to-reach locations and help communities in a new way! This has the potential to be life-changing for some people and I am proud to be a part of that.