UI graduate Jack Sieleman scores job at NASA

Jack Sieleman said the road to his dream job wasn’t easy, but he doesn’t regret a thing.


Gabby Drees

University of Iowa student Jack Sieleman poses for a portrait at the Iowa City Municipal Airport in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Sieleman completed flight school at the Iowa City Municipal Airport in late 2020 and will head to Houston this June after accepting a position from NASA as a flight controller within the propulsion group.

Madeleine Willis, News Reporter

Jack Sieleman knew he would be an engineer when he was 7 years old.

Fifteen years later, after Sieleman graduates from the University of Iowa, he will head to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

“I picked out and started forming things I wanted to do with my life, and one of them was to work in flight operations and be the expert on rocket engines, and that’s my job description,” he said.

Sieleman is graduating in May with a degree in mechanical engineering, with a focus area in design and analysis. In June, he will travel to Houston to start his position as a flight controller with the propulsion group.

He said his journey hasn’t been easy, but he doesn’t regret any of it. Some classes in the mechanical engineering major were very challenging, but if it were easy, he said, anyone would do it.

Working with NASA isn’t Sieleman’s first experience with an aerospace company. For the past year, he interned with Collins Aerospace, a maker of aerospace defense products.

Two years ago, Sieleman attended flight school and earned his pilot’s license. He started the program at home in Southern California and finished at the Iowa City Municipal Airport.

Mary-Kate Wesley, a fourth-year UI student and  Sieleman’s  classmate since their sophomore year, said she was incredibly proud of him and is looks forward to visiting him in Houston.

“NASA is a peak,” she said. “He did it. He made it.”

She and Sieleman both talked about working for aerospace companies. She said he was always meant to be at NASA, and getting there has been his passion since the first time they met.

Sieleman said he was motivated to pursue his career by relatives, who are also engineers, and his knack for curiosity.

“What kind of led me into engineering was the ability to solve whatever problem was in front of me,” he said.

Sieleman said he owes his achievements to his main group of friends at the UI who he studied with for the past four years, as well as mentorship from professors.

He said one of those professors is Phillip Deierling, UI College of Engineering associate professor of instruction.

Deierling met Sieleman a year ago and has had him in four classes.

Deierling said that he enjoyed having Sieleman in class because not only was he very smart, but also very personable.

“It’s great to have a student like that in class because he brings out the best in everyone,” Deierling said.

Sieleman’s ingenuity helps him to think outside of the box and ask questions, he said.

“He understands the physical being and theoretical being, puts both components together, and that’s what makes a great engineer,” Deierling said.

But it isn’t just Sieleman’s intelligence, Deierling added, as he is also humble, outgoing, caring, and expressive.

“Jack is a well-liked individual that keeps everyone entertained and interested,” he said.

Wesley said that when Sieleman sets his mind to something, he will get it done no matter what.

Sieleman said he still sees himself working in flight operations five years from now. He said NASA is a very dynamic organization, and it has a lot coming up with its Moon to Mars program.

“I think what I am looking forward to the most is being a part of the world’s largest engineering agency,” he said.