Alumni - Karen Panoedjoe by KingsWay School

Focus on Alumni - Karen Poedjoe

Every Connect Magazine we like to focus on one of our alumni. For this issue, we asked Karen Panoedjoe to write an article about herself. She's currently employed by Rocket Lab as a Software Engineer.

Hi, my name is Karen – I was at KingsWay between Year 6 and Year 13 and graduated in 2013. While I was at KingsWay, I was part of a missions team that went to Tanzania in 2012. In my final year, I served as part of the Peer Support Leadership Team. Throughout school and beyond, I’ve always been interested in computers and technology, so I was encouraged to pursue this path and take subjects at school (such as Digital Technologies) that would complement these interests.

After finishing school, I went on to do a Bachelor of Engineering, specialising in Computer Systems Engineering at The University of Auckland, which I completed in 2017. In the summer of 2016-2017, I did an internship with the Software team at Rocket Lab, which builds and launches small rockets to Low Earth Orbit, carrying small satellites onboard. Once I finished my degree, I was fortunate enough to go back there – and I’ve been working at Rocket Lab ever since.


Some pivotal moments in my life which have got me to where I am today include the friends that I made at university. We went through so much together as students, and it’s been great keeping in touch and encouraging each other in life and in our professional careers. Another season that I look back on positively is my time with Student Life – a Christian group on university campuses across New Zealand. They equipped me with the tools for evangelism and were formative in my spiritual development after leaving KingsWay School.

A low moment was when my journey at university didn’t quite go to plan; I had every intention to specialise in Software Engineering when I started out at university, but my grades didn’t make the cut. I ended up specialising in Computer Systems and decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it and stuck with it. Since then, I’ve been able to directly apply what I learned in Computer Systems engineering to my daily job which is awesome.

Currently Working On

My role at Rocket Lab is as a Software Engineer in our Flight Software Team. My day-to-day work involves writing code that interacts with sensors and devices on the rocket, as well as developing software systems on the ground to receive data from the rocket as it’s flying. Occasionally I’m also involved in launch operations, which is thrilling and terrifying at the same time. Some big things we’re currently working on as a company include building up a recovery system so we can reuse our rocket boosters, and our CAPSTONE mission for NASA to explore a new orbit around the Moon that will aid in getting people to the Moon by 2024.

Where to From Here?

Looking ahead, I’m not entirely sure where God is leading me to in the future. However, I am open to what He has to say and to opportunities that pop up and seeing where they take me – that’s how I’ve ended up where I am today.

My advice for students at KingsWay is to be ready to learn, be available and open to what’s in front of you, and to not be afraid to pursue opportunities that come your way - you never know where it could lead you.

Karen Panoedjoe

KingsWay Alumni - 2013