Iowa State University, B.S. in Aerospace Engineering
Mark McKeown is an Iowa Space Grant Consortium alum who has paved an incredible path for himself in the world of aerospace technology and engineering. He started out at Iowa State University pursuing a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, and started with Raytheon Technologies in 1997, and currently works as a Senior Principal Software Engineer. While at Iowa State, McKeown was a recipient of the ISGC Summer Graduate Research Fellowship for his project Graphical Software Package for Satellite Ground Tracking in 1994 and attended the Fourth Annual Iowa Space Grant Conference in November 1994. For this project, he created computer programs to track satellites under non and perturbed conditions and add on packages for satellite antenna rotators using RS232C protocol as a precursor to a fully automated satellite ground station.
McKeown also obtained his M.E. in Cybersecurity Policy and Compliance from George Washington University in 2020.
McKeown also received an ISGC graduate school stipend as the operations director responsible for the overall preparation and selection of ground systems and equipment for the satellites ISAT-1, I.O.W.A., AMSAT OSCARs, and weather satellites as part of the Spacecraft Systems and Operations Laboratory (SSOL). McKeown initiated and configured the SSOL for support to the University of Bremen BREM-SAT project. In addition, McKeown was also the chief engineer in the initial ISAT’s High Altitude Balloon Experiments in Technology (HABET).
During his experience with ISGC, McKeown gained important memories from the program that helped with his overall learning and future career path. One of his favorite memories was, “Working with ZARM Institute of the University of Bremen, Germany on the BREM-SAT project. Using the resources of the SSOL we successfully supported the BREM-SAT project by gathering data during its reentry.”
When asked what skills he learned while he was involved within ISGC, McKeown replied with how to apply his classroom learning to engineer solutions for cool projects. “While part of the ISGC, I learned how to implement a satellite ground station requiring orbital mechanics for satellite tracking, communications equipment including radios and antenna trackers which has served me well in my current endeavors.”
As Senior Principal Software Engineer at Raytheon, his main job purpose is to implement software solutions for classified space missions in the domains of mission planning, data processing, and integration.
During his time in the military, McKeown’s continued with simulations at the Joint National Integration Center, (JNIC) implementing missile defense simulation components such as the Airborne Laser and Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS). He then transitioned into leading the effort for the Sensor and Vehicle integration on the Zumwalt Class navy destroyer. Finally, today he is supporting several classified development and sustainment efforts on DoD satellite constellations in his current position.
When asked why he loves STEM, McKeown replied with, “I love STEM because engineering solutions are in support of mission goals and seeing the results of your support is exhilarating!”
One piece of advice McKeown has for those just starting out their career in STEM is, “Get involved in activities other than just the pursuit of a degree. The ISGC has great opportunities to explore and leverage hands-on learning during the pursuits of degrees.”
The ISGC is extremely proud to have been a part of McKeown’s story and we look forward to hearing more about his future endeavors.