As a child, Aaron Shepard dreamt of working for NASA, building cool space technology, and becoming the first African American astronaut to set foot on Mars. Unfortunately, he lost those dreams after seeing the cancellation of the Space Shuttle program.

In an effort to “grow up and get a real job”, Aaron decided to pursue a career in medicine. He graduated from Claflin University with a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and went on to medical school. After struggling to find happiness and fulfillment in this “safe” career path, Aaron left his medical program to pursue his interests in space and technology. He enrolled at Clemson University to study electrical engineering, starting his education and career all over again.

Aaron conducts research on developing biologically inspired robots for satellite and orbital debris capture. His work is the recipient of the Minorities in STEM Research Fellowship through NASA and the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium. He recently accepted an internship offer to join NASA’s Langley Advanced Design and Development Engineering Research (LADDER) team for the summer of 2018.

Although some of Aaron’s dreams are truly out of this world, there is plenty he hopes to do here on planet Earth. He is passionate about changing the narrative of diversity in STEM fields. In 2017 he joined the Mars Generation, an international non-profit organization that works to excite people of all ages about science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and human space exploration. Aaron is currently a member of The Mars Generation’s Student Space Ambassador Leadership Board, where he serves as chair of the outreach committee. He works to give people from all backgrounds the resources and tools they need to follow their dreams of STEM and space.