This article has been updated since its original publication.
The first minority woman president of Kennesaw State’s chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics has only been in office for seven months and has already made changes unlike KSU has ever seen before.
“I’m first-generation,” Cindy Vo said. “Girls don’t grow up playing with planes [and] machines — we grow up playing with makeup and baby dolls. It’s not the stereotypical role we play in society, [but] it drives me even more because I see a calling for more females and more diversity. There’s a power in being who you are.”
Vo’s main task as president of the program has been advocating for the creation of an aerospace engineering major at KSU.
Currently, KSU only has an aerospace engineering minor. Southern Polytechnic State University approved the creation of an aerospace engineering major previously, but Vo said that the plans changed after administrative changes.
As president, Vo has also been working to create more resources for students on the Marietta campus. Vo said that in mid-February, presidents of the Aerial Robotics Team, Electric Vehicle Team, Motor Sports Team and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Team met with the Dean of Student Success to present their needs and concerns in regards to campus resources.
“Us being on the Marietta campus — we have the short end of the stick,” Vo said. “[Still], there’s a beauty in unity. There’s power in numbers. What I’m doing is bigger than me. I want future students to be able to learn and to want to stay in the clubs.”
Vo said that AIAA and other student organizations such as the aforementioned teams are currently facing retaining issues — a problem she attributes to untapped potential and a lack of funding, communication and resources.
The night of Feb. 19 marked a particularly special event to Vo as it was the first time a professional chapter of AIAA came to a university in Georgia for a dinner. Vo expressed the relevance of the milestone, as AIAA only has two collegiate chapters in Georgia, with the other collegiate chapter having more resources because of its location at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
AIAA’s decision to hold an event on KSU’s campus before Georgia Tech’s is a testament to the growth the aeronautics program has seen at KSU.
“It’s amazing to break ground,” Vo said. “I just started this year — my parents didn’t even know English and look at how much I’ve done. I’m in this body for a purpose.”
Vo has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
“In March, I’m going to Congress with AIAA to represent the industry,” Vo said. “I’m going to create a mentorship program with AIAA Professional Atlanta to pair students with aerospace engineering professionals to help them learn the craft outside of the classroom.”
As for the more distant future, Vo refuses to put herself in a box.
“I want to work in the aerospace industry, but it might be a job that doesn’t even exist yet,” Vo said. “I don’t want to limit myself and then be disappointed.”