National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Denise Salazar

Denise Salazar

Denise Salazar

The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX
B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, 2013

NASA Academy Research Project:
Venus Exploration

Principal Investigators:
Dr. Geoffrey Landis and Anthony Colozza

Hometown: Houston, TX


I believe in aiming high, in setting priorities and goals and working hard towards realizing them. Determination is part of the battle to achieving your dreams; then there are obstacles and hard work to overcome the obstacles. In the end, having your dreams turn into a reality is worth it. This is my favorite philosophy that I give to my younger peers in the Women in Engineering Program.


I attended Stratford High School in Houston, Texas. Now, I am a fourth year undergraduate studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Following my undergraduate studies, I would like to sharpen my skills in graduate school. I am interested in space exploration, systems engineering, and radiation in space. I hope the Space Academy at Glenn Research Center this summer will guide me into choosing a research topic to pursue in graduate school.

Some projects I have worked on during college include a payload to the edge of space, observations in a wind tunnel, and optimization of an orbiter.

During my freshmen year, I was heavily involved in the Women in Aerospace for Leadership and Development (WIALD) club. Our mission was to send a payload up to 100,000 feet in the air to capture a live feed of the Earth. I was part of the six-member Deployment team and I also helped design and build the stand for the video camera within the payload. The payload was placed in a 19-foot tall rocket and launched in White Sands, New Mexico. Unfortunately the rocket failed to reach the edge of space. Even though the mission was unsuccessful, our payload still functioned properly during the flight.

In my junior year, I had experience working in a 5’ by 7’ low-speed wind tunnel at my university. I worked on a group project to determine the optimal angle for a bike helmet by observing the flow over it. The flow was visualized by using smoke and strips of paper.

Recently for my Space Systems Engineering Lab, I worked on a project in the design stage involving a lander and orbiter around Mars. I minimized the masses of the communication and power subsystems of the orbiter in order to maximize the mass of the lander capsule. I analyzed the system, made adequate assumptions, and optimized variables using an excel spreadsheet.

This summer, I will be a research assistant in the Space Academy at Glenn Research Center.


I have actively worked with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the Women in Engineering Program (WEP) during my college career. My other interests include salsa, music, animals, and basketball.

I have enjoyed many good times with my peers in the SHPE chapter at my university. I strongly believe in giving back to the community and I realize it through volunteer work. My favorite volunteer event with SHPE was called A Walk for Education. With a small group of college students, I walked door to door in an underrepresented community and gave mostly Spanish-speaking families information about higher education and financial aid. Within SHPE, I also had the opportunity to become a leader. I took on the role of On Campus Hispanic Organization (OCHO) Representative and coordinated events between Hispanic organizations such as a soccer watch party and an etiquette dinner for our members.

In WEP, I am a Peer Assistant Leader (PAL) for freshmen Aerospace Engineering girls. I received leadership training from WEP to serve as a positive role model for the students. Throughout the year, I advise them through group and one-on-one settings.

Although my free time is short, I spend it doing what I love: dancing salsa, bachata, merengue, and swing. I also enjoy playing the flute and piccolo and arranging songs for small ensembles. I love volunteering at animal shelters. I have devoted several years to it in Houston and Austin. A typical day at the shelter involves walking the dogs, cleaning the cages, preparing the food, and informing families about the animals.


My professional aspiration is to have a pioneering career in the field of Aerospace Engineering. I see myself in the future designing and implementing space exploration missions. Also, I am determined to compose music for a full orchestra, write a fiction novel, speak French fluently, continue dancing, and obtain a private pilot’s license.