Aerospace engineering alumna takes the cake with her award-winning bakery

January 07, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Jamie Landers remembers being interested in space as early as age 5, when she would sit at her windowsill and stare inquisitively at the sky. She said, “I’d ask my mom, ‘what’s up there?’ and ‘how do you get there?’”

Supportive of their daughter’s interest, Jamie’s parents enrolled her in NASA’s Space Academy when she was in seventh, eighth and ninth grades. The Brockton, Massachusetts, native recalled, “It was a wonderful experience to be totally immersed in the industry and spend time with others from around the world who were curious about space. We even stayed in dorms that looked like the International Space Station.”

Knowing she wanted to study aerospace engineering, Jamie sought a university that had a stellar program. But she also wanted to choose a place that made a solid investment in its students, with an active alumni association, a variety of activities and sports, and a strong sense of community. “If I was going to move that far away from home, it had to feel like a new home. That was Penn State.”

As a student, Jamie participated in a co-op at Boeing in southern California. “I took a semester off and worked nine months there, then returned to Penn State and finished my degree in 2002. Boeing offered me a job before I graduated.”

She began a four-year career with the aerospace manufacturer as a structural engineer, designing parts for satellites. She later moved into overall system design, and eventually stress testing, where she learned the process from design to build, then launch.

In 2005, Jamie joined Analytical Graphics, an Exton, Pennsylvania-based software development company focused on spaceflight and national security. She worked with the company’s sales team to help customers learn to use their programs and eventually became a business development manager, traveling the world to talk with government officials and industry representatives about space situational awareness. She noted, “It’s important to understand what’s in space, from the debris to types of satellites and how everything interacts, and even how man-made objects in space affect our environment.”

While working at Analytical Graphics, Jamie enrolled in community education classes at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia. She entered baking competitions and won Philabundance’s Cupcake Smash, which challenges professional and amateur bakers to create wild, ambitious and flavorful cupcakes, two years in a row. “That’s when I really started getting serious about starting my own business,” she smiled.

Jamie left Analytical Graphics in 2013 to start her own business, Luscious Bakery, which operates out of a food truck in the Philadelphia area. “Baking has always been a passion. I enjoy it because it is an exact science. You have to understand the ratio of ingredients when making pastries, and how the environment, such as humidity, affects things. It allows me to be creative, too.”

She noted that she uses many of the skills she acquired as an engineer in the baking business. “You have to understand systems from start to finish, figure out how different components affect each other, and effectively problem solve.”

Luscious Bakery’s first day of vending was July 15. Jamie said, “I’ve had a wonderful start to my business. I was accepted in the Philadelphia Parks and Rec vending program, which means I get scheduled a lot of great locations, including Love Park, City Hall, and Eakins Oval.”

For now, Landers is Luscious Bakery’s only employee, so she appreciates all the hard work that goes into making her business successful. “At brick-and-mortar locations, employees manage different aspects of the company. I do everything from shop for ingredients, to bake, to drive the truck. I even have to fix it when it breaks down. I crawled up on the roof and fixed the air conditioning over the summer. Once again, engineering came in handy!”

Learn more about her bakery at http://www.lusciousbakery.com/.

Last Updated January 07, 2015