Introducing The 2019 20 TwentiesLindsay Bjerregaard March 12, 2019
As the aerospace and defense (A&D) industry faces a multifaceted people shortage, cultivating the next generation never has been more important. Since 2013, the Aviation Week Network and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) have been recognizing young, rising stars within A&D through the annual 20 Twenties program. Universities around the world nominate their top students who are working to solve challenges within the industry, and 20 exceptional winners are chosen.
A judging panel composed of hiring managers, engineers and academics evaluate and score nominees on academic performance, civic contribution and the value of each student’s research or design project. Evaluators were particularly impressed with the depth of civic contributions from this year’s winners. “As they make important contributions to their fields of study, they are also working to make the world a better place,” says AIAA Executive Director Daniel L. Dumbacher. “These students are not just ‘shaping the future of aerospace,’ but also that of humanity, and each of these students is uniquely worthy of this honor.”
This year’s honored students were overwhelmingly passionate about advocating STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) with youth and the public, spending many volunteer hours on projects and organizations with the aim of increasing awareness and excitement about STEM. As honoree Emily Jewell says, “Regardless of race, gender or economic background, I want anyone with a curiosity about and interest in STEM to feel that they can make a difference and pursue a career filled with questioning, observing, analyzing and communicating, as the scientific community only benefits from having a richer background of practitioners.”
Fellow 20 Twenties winner Siddarth Kaki notes, “Educating and inspiring children to study STEM will reinforce the reality that our world is frail and minute against the stark, endless vastness of space. Only by collaborating with and respecting others can we as a species dare, and achieve, mighty things.”
This year’s students demonstrated collaboration with others to better the A&D industry in a wide variety of ways—from leading teams in building rockets and aircraft to international volunteer work and research. Multiple students emphasized the importance of cross-cultural collaboration, both on research and on humanitarian projects.
Students from nine countries were represented in this year’s 20 Twenties nominations. A total of 88 nominations were received from 42 schools, including 16 new university nominators. This year, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Purdue University had strong showings, with three current students or alumni from each school being honored.
The winners will be recognized with awards at the 20 Twenties luncheon on March 14.