Hyeonseung “Shawn” Lee developed resilience at a young age. Born in the urban and fast-paced Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, he was shocked when at age 10, Lee and his family moved to the slower pace of Austin, Texas. While leaving his hometown for another country and culture was difficult, he says it gave him a sense of “grit.”
He adds, “It’s also given me this awesome dual identity: one as Korean and the other as an Austinite, and a Texan.”
One of our outstanding seniors from the 2021 class, Lee appreciates that he has remained close to his family and the city’s “unique lifestyle,” including Tex-Mex food. He initially didn’t envision himself attending college so close to home, having overlooked the UT Austin campus that he passed by so frequently; it wasn’t until he enrolled at UT that he fully realized the range of what it has to offer, including community, research and career opportunities.
Lee will be working after graduation as an engineer at Blue Origin, a rocket and a spacecraft company with the mission of building a road to space (and where he was an intern in the spring of 2020). The sum of his academic, extracurricular and professional experiences — including learning about Korean American astronaut Jonny Kim while interning at Blue Origin — influenced his ultimate goal: to become an astronaut himself.
As a computational engineering major, Lee studies how to implement computational methods and big data to model real-life scenarios and make predictions. He hopes to increase safety and accessibility in human space flight and space habitation, and to prevent tragic accidents such as the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters.