Local ATL-ien | GT Grad Student Plans to Build Spacecraft

Cheong Chan is a student of the universe. Currently working on his Aerospace PhD at Georgia Tech, Chan’s post-graduation plans are not contained to Atlanta… or to Earth. In between building web applications and researching atoms, Chan has interned at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and worked as a Summer Programmer at the Space Science Lab at Berkeley. He’s got his head high above the clouds, folks, and we’ve got the scoop for you on what this current ATL-ien has been up to and what is big plans are after he graduates.


Class of:

What is your major?
Aerospace PhD

What are you currently working on outside of class?
Besides research and teaching, I am also investigating some startup ideas. A few of the ideas are related to space applications, and others are just fun to float around. Having recently moved here, I am also single, and I am currently working on an idea to help with that as well.

What past projects have you worked on?
I come from a physics background, so I have worked on cooling atoms down with lasers and tightening bolts to image reconstruction for MRI’s. I can usually find something of interest in pretty much any project I encounter. My first foray into the startup community was with Faschei which would have been a dynamic pricing marketplace for common consumer electronics. My co-founder Valerio Callegaro and I learned a bunch trying to build it up, and it has inspired us both to continue down the entrepreneurial route.

What are your best technical or creative skills?
I want to say “asking questions”. Someone has to do it, and usually I’m the man in the room with my hand up. You need your brain to be on, and it seems to help with customer validation among other things.

What’s next on your list to learn?
Where in Atlanta are the passionate space entrepreneurs? I could probably learn from someone who has already walked down the road a bit further.

Why the interest in startups?
I like the idea of taking risks to accomplish more interesting projects. The people in this community usually have special insight into how the world works and where it is going. Also, I suppose you could say my background in questioning how nature works has leaked over into other aspects of my life and resulted in general rebelliousness of the status quo.

What’s your ideal next project?
It would be a relatively simple idea that is not hardware intensive. I would like to get through the entire process of building a viable business before really tackling the tougher ideas.

Post graduation plans?
I want create a startup building spacecraft, and I am currently looking for the “right stuff” to join me. In these last few years, I have moved and traveled so often. If I ever have the resources, I would like to construct an airship to live in instead of a house so once I am done with a city I can just fly away.

[Photo Credit]