Aerospace student leads organization, plans for the future

Alexandria Howard

The writing was on the wall for Alexandria Howard whether she knew it or not. As a small child with a keen interest in astronomy, solving puzzles and building things with her hands, the Texas A&M University senior was destined to become an aerospace engineer.

The newly appointed chief coordinator of Aggie Aerospace Women in Engineering is 18 months from graduating and making that dream become a reality.

An early interest in space

Since Howard was a little girl, all she wanted was to go to Rice University and one day become an astronomer. But one night, at the beginning of her junior year in high school, she had a conversation with her father and sister that would change the course of her life.

“It was a life-changing night,” she said. “We were planning my visit to Rice, and it was during the planning of that visit that my father said astronomy might not really be my thing.”

Then, Howard’s sister, a Texas A&M former student, told her about the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. She told her a career in the military would suit her personality.

“A couple weeks later my sister took me to Rice, and I was completely bored,” Howard said. “My life dream was crushed.”

The next day, Howard visited Texas A&M. As soon as she walked into the aerospace engineering advisor’s office, she knew she wanted to be an Aggie. There was an airplane hanging over the advisor’s desk and a rocket in the corner of the office.

“She said as a part of a senior design project you get to build, test and launch these things,” Howard said.

Her decision was made. Howard was bound for Aggieland.

Joining the Corps of Cadets

Howard always knew she wanted to serve her country, but she didn’t think she would be joining the military.  It wasn’t until she visited Texas A&M and participated in the “Spend the Night with the Corps” program that the idea of a career in the military really began to blossom.

Now, a cadet major and the only senior female drummer in the band, Howard is looking forward to a future in the United States Air Force.

“I think I’d wanted to join the military all along, because I wanted to serve my country, but I wasn’t satisfied truly with all of the other options,” she said. “I realized I could be an engineer and join the military. I could be an officer and help lead and truly make a difference.”

Howard serves as Infantry Band recruiting officer and director of staff for Air Force ROTC.

Aggie Aerospace Women Engineers

As a female engineering major and a member of the largely male Corps of Cadets, Howard wanted to be part of a group that allowed females and males to share conversations and experiences on a more level playing field. Aggie Aerospace Women in Engineering (AAWE) provided that.

“I feel like it’s broadened my view of engineering,” she said. “It’s truly interactive, and I don’t think I’d have as good of an insight into the industry if I hadn’t joined.”

Being a part of AAWE has provided Howard with confidence too.

“It’s given me assurance knowing that as a woman I can succeed, because people have done it before me, and there are people doing it beside me,” she said.

As the newly elected leader of the student organization, Howard plans to continue hosting diverse meetings focusing on everything from resumé writing to public speaking. 

“I just want people to be more comfortable going into industry, both with knowledge and with skills,” she said.

Howard has a busy year ahead of her. While studying and serving in all of her leadership roles, she’s also planning a wedding. Howard is engaged to senior aerospace engineering major, and fellow Corps of Cadets member, Matthew Connelly.