Naia Butler-Craig - Science ATL
Naia Butler-Craig

Naia Butler-Craig

Aerospace Engineer and STEAM Advocate,
Georgia Institute of Technology

“There are so many brilliant underserved populations that can contribute to space exploration and beyond… if they just knew what was out there.”

About Naia Butler-Craig

STEM Topics Related to Her Work: Aerospace Engineering, Electric Propulsion, Space Propulsion, Plasma Physics

How She Makes The World A Better Place Through STEM: I’m part of multiple organizations that focus on the recruitment AND retention of Black and POC students into the aerospace and astronomy fields. I believe outreach for the purposes of recruitment is great but it will mean nothing if we are not actively addressing the problems in STEAM fields that make it hostile toward diverse people who are often at multiple intersections (like, queer, disabled, etc.). So my goal is to also focus on making these fields and organizations a safe space for the diverse talent they are recruiting. Otherwise we risk that talent burning out, leaving the field, or worse.

Hobbies: STEAM Outreach, Aerial Yoga/Fitness, Circus Arts, Dance

Education: MS Aerospace Engineering, BS Aerospace Engineering

More Than Just SpaceGirl: Naia Butler-Craig

Since middle school, all Naia Butler-Craig has wanted to do was to be an astronaut. After seeing a poster of Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to go into space, Naia was convinced that the space industry was her calling. The sheer vastness of space – all there is to learn about it, and all the benefits that knowledge can bring to humanity – has drawn her in and hasn’t let her out of its gravitational field.

A graduate student at Georgia Tech, Naia is working on an Electric Rocket Thruster – a propulsion system for deep space travel. Naia’s mission? To increase the efficiency of these thrusters, leading us to a future where interplanetary expeditions to Mars and other frontiers become not just dreams, but reality.

Naia’s dreams extend beyond engineering marvels; her sights are set on donning a space suit and earning the title of Astronaut. Her dedication stems from an early infatuation, dating back to her middle school years, with aerospace engineering. And while she enjoys learning about and working with the technology that will take us further into space, her real passion is to follow in the footsteps of her role model, Dr. Jemison, and go into space herself.

Naia’s counsel to her middle school self is a testament to her wisdom: self-belief, accompanied by unwavering confidence, is the bedrock of achievement. Confidence serves as the propellant pushing individuals to vocalize their ideas, assert themselves in the professional arena, and flourish as leaders.

Similarly, Naia emphasizes the value of embracing individuality as a source of innovation. She began putting herself “out there” on social media to show a more human side to aerospace engineering – the struggles, the successes, the silliness – and has gathered a strong following. She has been invited to speak to school groups about girls in STEM and to encourage girls to follow their own trajectories.

Naia’s journey serves as a guiding star, encouraging each young mind to explore the frontiers of science and innovation, shaping a future that knows no bounds.

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