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Jacob Keip

Jacob Keip, of Cambria, Wisconsin, is our 2016 William Wiersma Scholar Jacob is an outstanding student and will graduate as Salutatorian of his class with a 4.16 GPA. Between his studies, athletics, and employment responsibilities, Jacob has also found time to reach out and help others. He initiated a new program where he and his[…..]

Jacob Keip, of Cambria, Wisconsin, is our 2016 William Wiersma Scholar Jacob is an outstanding student and will graduate as Salutatorian of his class with a 4.16 GPA. Between his studies, athletics, and employment responsibilities, Jacob has also found time to reach out and help others. He initiated a new program where he and his fellow Varsity football teammates read to students at the elementary school once a week, and the program has been so successful that it will be continued in future years. Jacob will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison and majoring in Engineering Mechanic and Astronautics. He is humble and hard-working by everyone’s report, and we commend him for the initiative and diligence he has demonstrated in preparing himself for a career in aeronautics and space exploration. Jacob has always been fascinated by anything that flies. One of his favorite stories is to hear his father recount the awe that overtook the nation, and the world, when everyone watched Neil Armstrong take his first step on the moon. Jacob hopes to someday work for NASA and contribute to the manned exploration of Mars! We are honored to support Jacob as he continues to pursue these laudable goals at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Updates from Jacob:

May 2020

Hello! To say it has been an interesting semester for me would be a massive understatement. As you are aware, this was my first semester back after taking on a co-op during Fall 2019. I had my apprehensions about being able to get back into the swing of things, which turned out to be correct apprehensions, but I was able to work my way back to a normal level, as difficult as it was.
Of course, needing no mention, the COVID-19 pandemic threw everything through the wringer. It definitely took even more adjusting than I was already doing from coming off my co-op, so it really pushed me. Luckily, I was able to work hard at succeeding in my classes, (which most definitely are not getting any easier) without too many major hiccups. It’s definitely a semester I will never forget, on the account of it being a very uncertain time for me and everyone else.

I am SUPER lucky, though, as I was once again offered an extension on my internship at Sierra Nevada Corporation through this summer. I learned so much, even just working part-time there this past Spring semester, and I can’t wait to continue here. Lots of exciting things are happening at the workplace, not only for me, but for the company as well. We’re closing in on final flight assembly of the Dreamchaser Cargo System, and I’m so proud and grateful to have been a part of this project. I couldn’t think of a better way to close out my final semester as an undergraduate than to be working at a great company that’s so close to home.

If everything goes all to plan, I should be able to stay on track and graduate in May of 2021. I’m excited to see where this long journey will ultimately lead me to.

I hope you all are doing well and staying safe.


January 2020

After a long and rewarding 8 months, I’ve finally started back up to classes. It’s hard to believe that time went by that fast and it’s even harder to accept the fact that I have to return to classes. As you know, I have been fortunate enough to have worked at Sierra Nevada Corporation out in Middleton since May. I am happy to announce that they have extended my offer to work as an intern part-time throughout the next semester. This is a huge opportunity for me to continue my education while also continuing my career, and I am so excited at the challenge facing me ahead.

I absolutely loved my time spent working full time at SNC for 8 months. I learned so, so much; much more than I ever could have possibly imagined, and definitely much more than any amount of time spent in class. I am looking forward to seeing my work payoff (hopefully) in 2021, when the Dreamchaser spacecraft will take it’s first flight to the International Space Station. I know how hard I and everyone has worked to make this dream become a reality for the company, and it’s so amazing to see the entire project come together. I hope, after the semester of part-time work is over, that I can continue working full-time there throughout the summer. Having that opportunity was an unforgettable experience, and I can truly say I am currently working my dream job.


June 2019
Hello! I’m now about 6 weeks into my co-op and I am really enjoying it. It is so much different than putting in hours outdoors at the airport, which I miss quite a bit. But I am also loving this job as well! I am learning and doing so many things that I never would’ve dreamed of.

I’m currently working on the Active Thermal Control System team of SNC’s Dreamchaser spacecraft. It’s a very rewarding job, and the work I’m doing is really interesting and exciting to me. So in that sense, it is very, very rewarding. If this job is any indication of what a future career in the aerospace industry is like, I think I made the right choice.

I will have to set up a dinner/visit sometime soon since I had such a great time last time!


Jan 2019
I’ve just completed my fifth semester at UW-Madison and my first official semester in the College of Engineering. It sure hasn’t been easy, but I’m persevering and I keep finding a new way to succeed and new things to change my habits in college. This past semester my hardest class was by far Thermodynamics, but it was also the most interesting, as I learned to model multiple forms of combustion engines, such as turbofan, turbojet, and 4 stroke engines. This spring semester I will be taking some more specific classes, with much smaller class size (finally). I will be taking my final math class (I thought I was done this past semester but found out I had one more with the Astronautics option), Mechanical Vibrations, Electronic circuits, Fluid Dynamics, and an Advanced Computer problem-solving class. This won’t be an easy schedule by any means, but then again neither was this past one. I’m trying to find an internship or co-op for this summer, but I’m not getting my hopes up, as I have no industry or project experience. I’m hoping this semester changes that. If all else fails, I’ll just go back to my job at the airport, as I loved every hour I spent there, as well as learned new things about the aerospace industry, that will be helpful in my future career.


May 2018
Wow! It’s truly hard to believe this year is already over and we’re back in the swing of summer festivities. It’s been quite a hectic and busy year for me. At the beginning of the year, I broke my foot and was unable to join the rowing team, which was an extreme disappointment to me. My classes are starting to ramp up in difficulty, as I have just completed a 2 semester series of physics classes; Statics and Dynamics, which have been extremely difficult, but also very interesting. I’ve also completed my final Calculus class with Calc 3 but will be moving onto taking my last mathematics class, Linear algebra, and differential equations.

I have just recently submitted my application to the engineering school. I’m hoping for the best but expecting the worst, and I have already spoken to the astronomy-physics advisors for a possible transfer into the program. Luckily, if I have to go the astronomy route, almost all my classes will carry over to meet requirements.

This summer I will be living in Madison and working at the airport as a Line Technician. I will be refueling, marshaling, and any other ramp related work on aircraft. I’m extremely excited about this job and my first few days have gone exceptionally well. I’m glad to just have my foot in the door in the aviation industry. I don’t think I will ever get tired of it.

I’m looking forward with anticipation to my next year and to see what the college of engineering has decided for me. I hope summer doesn’t fly by as fast as the school year did!


May 2017
I finished with a 3.5. I’m still pursuing a degree in an Engineering Mechanics/Astronautics. Some of the coursework has been surprisingly difficult, but the most difficult classes are General Ed courses and not degree-related courses. I guess it’s because the Gen Ed courses involve a lot of memorization of facts while the math and science involve applying ideas. I’ve also completed my first year of rowing and really enjoyed it. I’ll be spending the summer training in Madison in preparation for next season. I had a great first year and I can’t wait to be back at Madison for year 2.