Student News

UK Junior Kyle Hampton Awarded Prestigious Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship

Photo of Kyle Hampton
Kyle Hampton

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 10, 2022) — Kyle Hampton, a junior pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Kentucky, is the recipient of a Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship.

The Fellowship is a highly selective summer internship and executive mentorship program. It connects exceptional college juniors, seniors and graduate students with paid internships, mentors and networking opportunities in the commercial spaceflight sector.

This year, the program received applications from more than 200 students from more than 90 colleges. The applications underwent a rigorous process — evaluating academic excellence, relevant experience and a demonstrated passion for innovation, entrepreneurship and commercial space. Hampton represents one of 30 students chosen to participate in the distinguished program.

He will intern at Rocket Lab — an industry leader in launch and space transportation. The company provides launch services, spacecraft, satellite components and on-orbit management.

“The reason I have focused on aerospace engineering is, I believe it grants me the best ability to make the biggest impact on the world, while also allowing me to do the coolest things I can imagine — like working on rockets,” Hampton said.

Hampton was previously a mechanical engineering intern at Thermal Equipment Sales and a civil engineering intern at AGE Engineering. This semester, he is a "test and launch" intern for Firefly Aerospace in Austin, Texas. “I am working for their launch and test operations team, and it’s allowing me to get my first taste of aerospace engineering and gain valuable industry experience,” he explained.

Hampton is a first-generation college student from Waynesburg, Kentucky. Throughout his time at UK, he has been a member of SpaceLex — a peer mentor for UK Engineering living learning program and a volunteer for the Special Olympics Club.

Hampton is also a Pigman Scholar.

In 1999, L. Stanley Pigman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering from UK in 1981, determined he would close a gap in the field of engineering and began funding scholarships for students whose financial situations would prevent them from attending UK. Since that time, he and his wife, Karen, have financially supported and mentored more than 120 students through L. Stanley Pigman Scholarships.

Students majoring in any of UK’s engineering disciplines are eligible to be Pigman Scholars. Candidates must be a resident of Kentucky and have financial need. Interested students can learn more online.

Through various scholarship and internship opportunities, Hampton hopes to inspire children from underdeveloped areas to pursue careers in STEM. “I have been zeroed in on engineering ever since I shadowed a civil engineer for a day when I was in fifth grade.”

About the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship

The program is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization honoring the memory of Matthew Isakowitz, an extraordinary engineer and entrepreneur. His passion for commercial space exploration led to great strides in the industry. The program seeks to instill that enthusiasm into the next generation of commercial spaceflight leaders by providing career training to those who embody Matthew’s drive for exploring our universe to help better humankind.

About the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards

The UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards assists current undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external fellowships scholarships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These major awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with the office's director, Pat Whitlow, well in advance of the scholarship deadline.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.