Andrew Benham Astroscale U.S.

Get to Know Our Interns: Andrew Benham

By: Taylor McPhail
Posted August 4th, 2021 Posted in Blog

1. Let’s start off by Introducing yourself. 

Hi! My name’s Andrew. I’m a recent graduate of CU Boulder, and I studied aerospace engineering, and did a minor in engineering management.

2. What is your internship role and what do you do?

I’m a Program Management Intern, so I’ve been working with the program manager, working on scheduling, as well as incorporating the budget, and bringing a lot of the pieces to make the mission happen together, all under one central location, so everyone knows what’s going on.

3. What made you decide to apply to be an intern at Astroscale U.S.?

I decided to work as an Astroscale U.S. intern because I’ve always been really interested in sustainability. I really like answering questions that are much bigger than the normal, every day, run-of-the-mill stuff. I think space is just phenomenal. And Astroscale U.S. is really unique because it was this opportunity to mix engineering with sustainability, with these grand ideas of the cosmos and the universe and making a future that’s better for everyone while we build cool stuff.

4. What does a typical day look like for you?

It depends. Some days we have a lot of meetings early in the mornings. Once a month, we’ll have our global all hands, which is a wonderful 6:00 AM meeting time, as well as, if we have meetings with our Israeli team, those are usually earlier in the mornings. Then I’ll usually move to the schedule, talk to the program manager a little bit. Sometimes I need to gather information from our systems engineers or any of the executive team, to make sure that what I’m doing for the day is well scoped and is providing value to the company. And then it’s also really cool, because Astroscale US is a startup, I have also a lot of freedom. The program manager sets some high-level goals for me, but I’m able to really interpret those and figure out, “Okay, how do I turn that into good meaning, good value for the company, and produce stuff that’s going to be useful and help move the program forward?”

5. What is something that surprised you during your first couple of weeks?

I think one of the surprising things that I realized when I came here was, the startup environment is much more fluid than I thought it would be. It’s not super structured. There is a lot of moving parts and it’s really on us to figure out how to bring those moving parts together, as well as figure out what parts we need to get moving or what parts are moving too quickly.

A lot of times I feel like an engineering school, you kind of learn, there are these equations, there’s a lot of structure, but then coming to a startup, it’s much more like, “Okay, what are these unknown unknowns that we haven’t figured out yet? What do we need to figure out about the stuff that we have figured out that we don’t know anything about,” or all that kind of stuff. So, it was really unique and really interesting to me to see how this kind of very flowy, not structured, environment worked.

6. What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to doing this life extension program. This is something that pretty much no other company… There is no other company that’s dedicated to doing this. So I’m looking forward to being a part of this program. And in the long term, I’m looking forward to hopefully a future where life extension services is a totally normal thing.

When you think about the future of space travel in a hundred years, it’s obviously probably going to be pretty common that you can service a satellite in orbit. So the fact that, here at Astroscale U.S. today, we’re pioneering that and we’re on the forefront of that, I think is just the coolest thing that I could imagine working on, practically.

7. What are things that you have learned outside of work that you have integrated and applied into your time here at Astroscale US?

I think some of the skills that I learned, not just in school, but in life, are a lot of… it’s a lot of people skills. It’s a lot of figuring out how to communicate with other people, how other people like to receive information, how I am communicating information. Again, because it’s kind of that very fluid structure, you need to know how to efficiently and effectively navigate through those things. And that takes interacting with other people. That took trying to start a club when I was in college, and pioneering those kinds of things, and being confident that what you’re coming up with to do is going to really provide value. So, a lot of those kind of soft skills that you only learned through trying, and a lot of times, in my case, failing, at certain things, really bring a lot of, I think, value to what I’m doing at Astroscale U.S.

8. What do yo like to do when you are not working?

When I’m not working… All of my other roommates are still in college, so we like to play games in our backyard, or we like to tube. I live in Boulder, so we like to go tubing on Boulder Creek. We do hikes, all that pretty typical Colorado stuff, as well as, just hang out. We watch a lot of TV, just do regular college things, probably.

9. What is your favorite space movie?

My favorite space movie is probably one of the more recent Star Treks, Star Trek Discovery is pretty good. I definitely like the Star Treks. I think they’re, just so exciting. Some of the different missions and stuff and endeavors that they go on. And some of the graphics and CGI that they do is just so cool. Makes me very excited to envision part of what we’re also doing here at Astroscale US, and seeing that in the future, and stuff.

10. Controversial question: Star Trek or Star Wars?

I think between Star Wars and Star Trek, I’m definitely more of a Star Trek fan. I think Star Trek, especially when you include all the TV shows, and stuff. My roommates will argue about the Clone Wars TV series, but I’ve always found the Star Trek TV shows to be more in depth, and sometimes they deal with a lot of big societal issues, or we use some star Trek examples in some of my engineering leadership classes to study different aspects of morality and what it means to explore space, and stuff like that. And I think Star Trek does a lot better job of answering those then Star Wars. So, please don’t come for me, Star Wars people.

11. Advice for recent college grads or potential interns?

I think advice that I would have for college grads or people in college, is to get involved in a club that you’re passionate about. Or if there isn’t a club that you find there is, that doesn’t align with your passions, don’t be afraid to start your own. I think that relates to some of those soft skills that I think that really give me value to add to Astroscale U.S., is going out, getting experience, trying things that no one else has done before. I think those are all things that you learn a whole lot about. And being in college is really about building those outside-of-the-classroom skills. Because everyone is going to take the same classes and some people may get better grades, some people may get worse, but if you have this really unique experience of being involved in a club, that really makes you stand out and could give you a whole lot of value after you graduate. So, that would be my big piece of advice for people.