Outstanding Collegiate Member

Payton Porter

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

For exemplary academic and technical performance; for advancing girls in STEM while recruiting and retaining women engineering students; and for enhancing SWE’s visibility as an uplifting, supportive community.

Payton Porter is a master’s student in the blended program at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), majoring in aerospace engineering with a concentration in astronautics. She has a notable record of academic and technical achievements, with a consistent GPA of 3.75+ and a place on the dean’s list every quarter. She is excited to complete her thesis in the complex and vital area of space debris mitigation.

As a research scholar, Porter analyzed the natural frequencies and free vibrations of low aspect-ratio aircraft wings. She applied various finite differencing schemes to a cantilevered plate model to compare and verify her results. She presented her findings at a research symposium, sharing her experiences and insights with other Cal Poly students and faculty.

Porter completed one internship at Sierra Space and two internships at Northrop Grumman, and she has been recognized for her enthusiasm and performance during these internships. She has also received several awards: The aerospace department faculty nominated her for the Outstanding Women in Engineering Award. She was named a Cal Poly Merit Scholar and joined the prestigious Brooke Owens Fellowship Class of 2023 based on her talent, creative abilities, record of leadership, and commitment to the community.

Porter is an active and influential Cal Poly SWE Collegiate Section member, for which she has volunteered since her first year. She has organized and led various outreach events for the local community, building an inclusive support system to encourage young women’s interest in pursuing engineering careers. Through her leadership and active roles in these events — including as club coordinator and activities director — Porter demonstrated to participants that engineering is both an exciting career path and a possible one, no matter one’s background or identity.

Her efforts contributed to the section’s outreach to more than 2,000 students annually, which helped to achieve the most diverse class of new engineering students at Cal Poly ever, representing 30% women and a 29% increase in Hispanic women. She has also made significant contributions to Cal Poly SWE’s Corporate Relations core, serving as vice president and Evening with Industry events director, which earned an Outstanding Professional Development Event Award at the FY23 WE Local. She now serves as the section president for the 2023–2024 school year.

Porter volunteers in other engineering organizations on campus, such as Tau Beta Pi, where she participates in community cleanup initiatives and mentors undergraduate students. As a Cal Poly engineering ambassador, she loves introducing the world of engineering to curious students and families during campus tours. She has also been an active member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, through which she enjoys networking with students and professionals in industry.

Throughout her college years, Porter has balanced various jobs with academics and extracurricular activities. She enjoys spending quality time with her friends and family, and running, hiking, and participating in intramural sports.