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X-57 Battery Buddy Profile

Several NASA personnel meeting in an aircraft hangar.
Kassidy McLaughlin, deputy flight systems lead for NASA’s X-57 “Maxwell” works with other members of the X-57 project team on testing the aircraft batteries.

Kassidy Mclaughlin: The Electric Baker 

Kassidy McLaughlin is the deputy flight systems lead for NASA’s X-57 “Maxwell,” the agency’s first all-electric experimental aircraft. In this role, she works with team members to ensure that all subsystems operate as designed once they are integrated onto the aircraft. To do this, the team creates and runs various tests, such as verification and validation procedures, to ensure that they know how the systems will operate in the event of a malfunctionOutside of work, Kassidy has been baking since she was young, and during the pandemic, she and her mom elevated their skills to include French pastries. Her baking accomplishments include making her sister’s wedding cake, accompanied by cupcakes. Learn more about her career – and her cooking.

Headshot of Kassidy Mclaughlin with NASA logo.
Kassidy Mclaughlin
NASA/Kassidy Mclaughlin

Do you have any unique family traditions?

One family tradition that is very special to me is having a big holiday cookie baking day with my mom and my sister. Each year we get together and make a variety of cookies to put into boxes to share with family and friends.

What is one of your favorite recipes to bake?

One of the recipes I like the most became the recipe we used for my sister’s wedding cake. It’s a rich chocolate cake with a tiramisu-flavored filling and light vanilla buttercream. It’s pretty tasty!

What’s the last book you read?

The last book I read was for a book club I am in, and the title is “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury. It was not my typical choice of book, but it was interesting to read and kept me on my toes! One of my favorite books is “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.

You work on NASA’s all electric aircraft. What is something you bake that is electric?

Something I bake that feels electric are lemon lavender cupcakes. The lemon has an electrifying taste that is then calmed with the lavender frosting.

What has been the most interesting thing you have learned from the X-57 project?

Since my background is not in electrical engineering, I have learned a lot from being on the X-57 project! One of the most interesting things that I have learned is that even if a subsystem works well on its own, it might not perform the same or as expected once it is integrated with other systems. This may seem trivial, but it’s taught me not to make assumptions about an integrated system and why it’s best to “Test what you fly, fly what you test.”

What part does the X-57 project play in NASA’s mission?

The X-57 project is a major contributor to NASA’s sustainable aviation mission because it focuses on using rechargeable lithium-ion batteries rather than normal fuel. Using rechargeable batteries will help reduce the use of fossil fuels which could have a positive impact on the environment and make commercial flight more sustainable.

What led you to this career?

Growing up, I loved science and did well in my math classes. I knew at a young age that I wanted to go into engineering. I originally wanted to specialize in environmental engineering, but after doing an internship here at Armstrong, I switched to mechanical engineering. I really enjoyed the work I did with the Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration in the National Aerospace System.

What energizes you at work?

The people I work with keep me energized! Working with people from a variety of backgrounds to accomplish a similar goal is very exciting and pushes me to get my portion of the job done. Coffee helps energize as well!

The “X-57 Battery Buddy Profile” series highlights members of the X-57 project team. The primary goal of the X-57 project is to share the aircraft’s electric-propulsion-focused design, airworthiness process, and technology with industry, standards bodies, and regulators to inform certification approaches for all-electric propulsion in emerging electric aircraft markets.