Alumni Spotlight: Stephen Miller ’20

Stephen Miller earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson in 2020. As a student, he participated in NASA’s Micro-g NeXT Creative Inquiry project. Each year, NASA engineers identify current space exploration challenges, and teams of students from multiple disciplines across the country are tasked with presenting solutions to these challenges by designing and creating a device or tool. Teams selected to move on have the opportunity to travel to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to test their device in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. Miller’s team was one of the teams selected to travel to Houston to test their creation. Read more about the project here.

How did your experience with CI prepare you for your career?

Beginning my time in CI as an undergrad sophomore, I was able to experience “real-world” engineering for the first time. The CI program that I was a part of, NASA Micro-g NeXT, required our team to design a tool aimed at assisting astronauts with detecting micro-meteoroid impacts on the outside handrails of the International Space Station. In completing this challenge, the team had to brainstorm, model, propose and build a design that satisfied all customer (NASA) requirements and effectively carried out its primary function. The team utilized all of its available resources and knowledge and was able to successfully propose and test our prototype at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. The design process that we went through to accomplish this mission is the same design process I use in my career within the Aerospace/Defense industry today. My current job is to think outside the box and find effective solutions to complex problems; propose that solution; and if accepted, build that solution. My experience within the Clemson CI program taught me the basic understandings/fundamentals behind carrying out this design process and even though my designs may be on a larger scale now, the same skills I learned through CI are utilized.

What is your current job?

I currently work at Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) in Denver, Colorado, as a Systems Engineer II. SNC is a mid-tier aerospace/defense company that specializes in platform customization. Some current programs include the C-130, MQ-9 Reaper, and A-29 Super Tucano. As a Systems Engineer, I get a holistic view of the problem and get to work with engineers from various disciplines on designing and implementing an effective solution. Since my time here, I have been able to contribute on solutions for both the U.S. Air Force SAOC Program and U.S. Army Invictus program. Ultimately, my job is to make sure the customer is happy and the solution is meeting all of the set requirements throughout the entirety of the design’s lifecycle. Clemson’s CI program has played a large part in my success at this position and I am forever thankful for that opportunity.  GO TIGERS!!!