For more than 200 years, the U.S. has looked to its military service academies as the training ground for future military leaders, combining technical and scientific know-how with the arts, leadership and service. And there is no doubt that these same academies have produced not only military leaders but individuals who have gone on to lead in business and government service.  

Aviation Week’s Tomorrow’s Leaders awards recognize one outstanding student from each of the four U.S. military academies who is pursuing a career in aerospace. As the kickoff to the 2017 Laureates presentations, Aviation Week President Greg Hamilton and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Executive Director Sandra H. Magnus recognized this year’s four recipients. 

Cadet Lt. Michael Cremins of Burr Ridge, Illinois, is studying mechanical engineering with a focus in aeronautical engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he is leading a capstone team focusing on the Magnus moment of spinning projectiles. Last summer, Cremins shadowed an Army platoon leader at Fort Drum, New York, where he learned about Army Aviation and officers’ duties. In the summer of 2015, he interned at Boeing’s CH-47 production facility in Philadelphia, where he learned about civil-military relationships in acquisitions as well as the inner workings of the Chinook helicopter. After graduating in May, he will report to Fort Rucker, Alabama, to begin officer and aviation flight training.

2/c Cadet David Creswell has had a strong desire to be a military aviator since early in high school in San Diego, California. He plans to attend flight school for the Coast Guard, building on the aviation-related activities he has pursued at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He holds the position of Redbird Simulator Coordinator, which involves the organization of simulator training procedure and cadet-instructor scheduling for the academy’s Redbird simulator. Creswell is also one of six cadets who serve as “orange” members of the academy’s flight team, which competes with other colleges in events involving actual operation of aircraft. He has had his private pilot’s license for three years and has logged approximately 120 hr. If accepted to flight school, Creswell would like to fly C-130s for the Coast Guard.

Midshipman 1st Class Ryan Speir studied aeronautical engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. While at the academy, Speir participated in an internship at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, working with the Unmanned Aerial Systems Test Directorate and the MQ-8B Fire Scout program. He also participated in the flight-test engineering course at the academy, where he evaluated the SR22 Cirrus and assisted in the presentation of “Can We Trust the Magic Behind the Glass?” at the 2016 Society of Experimental Test Pilots East Coast Symposium. As a member of the Mangrove Surveillance Coastal Approach Path Evaluation team, Speir was the lead structures engineer for a quadcopter designed to use multispectral imaging to map Mangroves in order to discover potential drug-trafficking routes. Speir is a four-year member of the men’s cross country and track and field teams. He is now pursuing a master’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland. After completion of his graduate studies, Ryan will report to NAS Pensacola, Florida, to begin naval pilot training.

Cadet Colonel Young Yuyang Wu is a senior at the U.S. Air Force Academy majoring in aeronautical engineering. He is involved in the academy’s undergraduate research program, participating in multiple independent study courses and an internship at the U.S. Air Force Research Lab. Outside of his studies, he enjoys hiking, camping and skiing. He hopes to become a test pilot for the U.S. Air Force. Wu was selected to attend the academy from Leland High School in San Jose, California.