Renee Eastburn has fond memories of her humble beginnings in Bensalem. She remembers walking to Gabe’s Candy & Nut House on Bristol Road with her father, working her first job at Redhouse Bagels and attending St. Ephrem School and Conwell-Egan.
Eastburn hasn’t forgotten her Bucks County roots as she thrives in her engineering career at Lockheed Martin. Recently, her successes were recognized by her alma mater of Temple University, which selected Eastburn to be one of its 30 Under 30 awardees, an honor that singles out young alumni who are doing outstanding things post-graduation. Eastburn was nominated by a family friend and is thrilled to have received such an accolade.
“It feels great. I was really surprised to be nominated, I had no idea,” said Eastburn, who Temple named a Research and Technology Innovator. “Being from the area, being from Bensalem, it’s really cool because a lot of people from Bensalem go to Temple. I joke that it’s either Temple or Penn State. Just to be recognized by my school with such a regional, local presence and being from the Philadelphia area was really special.”
When Eastburn began her studies at Temple, she aspired to pursue a career in the healthcare field. Despite a longtime interest in engineering, she was not confident that her math skills were up to par. In fact, her lowest SAT score was in this subject.
But in her second year, she made the switch to her desired field and successfully graduated in summer 2018 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Though it took Eastburn four and a half years to finish due to her change in major, she has no regrets.
“I never looked back,” she said with pride.
Throughout her time at Temple, Eastburn completed several impressive projects, including a hospital safety bed frame for traumatic injury patients during her senior year. She also worked with Temple Formula Racing and helped build a car that competed at the Michigan International Speedway in 2016, and earned internships at Tesla and General Motors. Additionally, Eastburn was a proud member of the Society of Women Engineers’ student chapter, which helped her form vital connections that led her to where she is today.
A resident of Denver, Colorado since 2020, Eastburn is participating in the competitive three-year rotational engineering leadership development program at Lockheed Martin Space’s headquarters. Her current rotation, the second in the cycle, involves working on major U.S. defense projects.
As for her third and final rotation – the Lunar Mobility Vehicle Program – Eastburn can’t wait to get started.
“This is something I saw Lockheed post on LinkedIn about last year and I was like, ‘I need to be on the project, that seems really cool,’ ” she said. “It’s pretty exciting because Lockheed and General Motors are partnering together to develop this for NASA. I interned at General Motors, so it’s kind of full-circle.”
Simultaneously, Eastburn is completing an online master’s program through Penn State, which she hopes to finish in May 2023. She’s also taking in all that Denver has to offer, even though it’s not the same as Bensalem.
“It’s so different than the northeast. Being out here makes me appreciate home a lot,” she said. “I still consider Bensalem home. I have strong roots there. Colorado also doesn’t compare to the public transit on the east coast.”
For Eastburn, if someone told her years ago that she’d someday be working on products that are going into space, she wouldn’t have believed them. She hopes her courage and determination inspires the next generation of engineers.
“Engineering is hard for everyone. I guess there are a couple mad geniuses out there like Elon Musk. Math was my weakest SAT score, but I still managed to graduate with a 3.6 GPA. Just because you’re a little intimidated, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it,” Eastburn stressed. “Just being good at math isn’t going to take you throughout your degree and your career. It’s about putting in the time and effort and studying hard.”
She also hopes her story lets aspiring female engineers know that they, too, can do it.
“I urge them to not be deterred by the lack of diversity in the field and imposter syndrome,” she said. “Don’t let that prevent you from following your path.”
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com