Host Institution: HawkEye360
Giselle Koo is a junior studying Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is a non-traditional student, originally dropping out of college in her first semester. For the next six years she held various jobs: a computer lab assistant at a middle school, a handmade jewelry assembler for a local small business, a fabric cutter at a craft store. She also volunteered time at a wildlife rehabilitation clinic and served as a mentor for her high school's FIRST Robotics team. Eventually, after taking the time to heal and grow, she worked up the courage to pursue a career in engineering, enrolling at Tunxis Community College in Connecticut and earning an A.S. in Engineering Science before transferring to CU Boulder in 2019.
During her first semester at CU, Giselle developed an interest in Radio Frequency (RF) engineering through the mentorship of her Embedded Systems professor, Arielle Blum. Professor Blum encouraged her to take on an ambitious final project: to design a radio beacon that could fit inside the nosecone of a model rocket in order to help ease the recovery process after landing. Working with two teammates, she researched many topics far beyond the scope of the class and together they designed two custom PCBs, wrote C drivers from scratch, and integrated and tested a beacon system and data logger that did not quite work. Nevertheless, the team considered the project a success, and Giselle continued to grow her interest in RF systems.
Since then, she has completed two consecutive NASA internships during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Over the summer, Giselle worked remotely with researchers at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Science Data Processing Branch to develop use-cases for the Software Defined Radio (SDR) card being developed for their SpaceCube processing platform. She researched requirements and methods for the implementation of a Global Positioning System (GPS)/Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) receiver, which is a critical capability for guidance and navigation in space, from Low Earth Orbit to the Moon, and maybe even beyond.
During the fall semester, Giselle joined NASA Glenn Research Center's Power and Avionics and Cognitive Signal Processing branches to provide Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) design support for their Cognitive Radio Communication projects. She designed and implemented a register map interface compatible with their SDR development platform, resolving a critical roadblock for the project. The new interface allows the team to upgrade the support package and access important features on the SDR platform that will enable advancements in Cognitive Radio technology, including applications of machine learning to enhance space communication system performance.
This spring, Giselle is working at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is on a team working on the electronics for a Lunar Electrostatic Dust Analyzer.
As a 2021 Brooke Owens Fellow, Giselle will be interning with HawkEye 360 in Herndon, VA. She is excited for the opportunity to work with their Processing and Space teams on electrical engineering projects varying from digital signal processing development to avionics design for their spacecraft.
In the future, Giselle hopes to pursue a master's in Electrical Engineering and work on RF systems to support space science missions. She also is passionate about cultivating the community of gender-minority peers around her in STEM and connecting them with people, ideas and opportunities in the field.
In her free time, Giselle works on avionics projects at CU Boulder's collegiate rocketry team, CU Sounding Rocket Lab. She also likes to explore the outdoors, work on sewing, art and craft projects, and hang out with her pet dove, Noodle. Feel free to contact her @gisellegk8 on Instagram or Twitter.