A master’s degree candidate in aerospace engineering, Deepak Atyam completed his undergraduate degree at University of California, San Diego. His current studies focus on chemical propulsion and additive manufacturing. He has four patents pending, has been honored for business planning and was chosen as one of five finalists for the Louisiana Startup Prize Competition. He has completed internships at Garvey Spacecraft Corp., the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA Langley Research Center and Marshall Space Flight Center. He was founder and president of both the Triton Rocket Club and Students for the Exploration and Development of Space at UCSD.
Trevor Bennett - University of Colorado
Trevor Bennett, a graduate research assistant and NASA Space Technology Research Fellow, focuses on autonomous vehicle systems. He studied helicopter unmanned systems and earned his B.S. in aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University. He has completed internships at Applied Defense Solutions and Sandia National Laboratories. Bennett is now committee chair for the Engineering Excellence Fund at UC and was a mentoring chair for Sigma Gamma Tau at Texas A&M, where he served as a resident director and community assistant for Campus Advantage. He’s also a mentor for Discovery Learning Apprenticeship, a teacher for Tomorrow’s Engineering and a certified scuba diver.
Kathrine Bretl - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
An undergraduate aerospace engineering and political science major, Kathrine Bretl is a Wisconsin native. She has interned with SpaceX, NASA Langley Research Center and Bjorksten Bit 7 Engineering in Madison, Wisconsin. A participant in the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program, she is a vice president for the Alpha Phi sorority, has participated in the MIT Ring Design Committee and volunteers with the Amphibious Achievement youth outreach program and the Boston Red Sox and Celtics Shamrock foundations. She is a member of Women in Aerospace Engineering and is currently the president of the AIAA student chapter at MIT.
Imon Chakraborty - Georgia Institute of Technology
Imon Chakraborty completed his B. Tech degree in mechanical engineering at the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli in India and is now a graduate student. He worked as an assistant research engineer with PACE Aerospace Engineering and Information Technology GmbH in Germany and as an undergraduate assistant at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Germany. In 2015, the AIAA Aircraft Design Technical Committee selected his paper as the Best Aircraft Design Paper. He is a member of AIAA, the Yellow Jacket Flying Club and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. For the past three years he has served as a judge for Georgia Tech’s undergraduate Capstone Design Expo.
Wout De Backer - University of South Carolina
A native of Belgium, Wout De Backer is a graduate student focusing on additive manufacturing. He earned his first graduate degree in aerospace structures and design methodologies from the University of Kansas and his B.S. in aerospace engineering from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. De Backer is the founder of the AIAA chapter at South Carolina. He interned at AlphaSTAR Corp. in California and CleanERA in the Netherlands. He is currently designing and constructing a home-built 3-D printer/laser cutter.
Sylvie DeLaHunt - University of Maryland
Sylvie DeLaHunt earned her B.S. in aerospace engineering with a minor in international engineering at the University of Maryland, where she is now a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the composites research laboratory. In addition to her degree studies, DeLaHunt was a teaching assistant for “Jane Austen: Her World, Our Obsession” in the University Honors Program.
She has served as a student coordinator and section leader for the Honors 100 Program. Her activities include Women in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Maryland, Omicron Delta Kappa, intramural soccer, Banneker Key Community Council and Tau Beta Pi.
She participated in the GEA Summer Aerospace Program in Toulouse, France.
She is a member of AIAA, American Society of Mechanical Engineering and Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering.
Markus Geiss - University of Colorado
A native of Germany, Markus Geiss came to the U.S. as part of a foreign student exchange program in high school. He then attended the University of New South Wales in Sydney, University of Applied Sciences in Munich—where he earned his B.Eng. degree in mechatronics—and International Space University in Montreal.
As a graduate student at Boulder, he is focusing on topology optimization and simulation of spacecraft structures and novel materials. He completed a practical semester (internship) with EADS Astrium (now Airbus Defense and Space) and at the German aerospace center, DLR. He received the Europe Prize from the city of Passau, Germany, for bass trombone and tuba. He volunteers as an international student guide at Boulder and was a volunteer fireman in Germany, where he played in two brass bands and participated in the development of a constitution in the European Union youth parliament.
Thomas Green - University of Colorado, Boulder
Thomas Green will graduate from Colorado this spring with a B.S./M.S. degree in aerospace engineering sciences with a focus in astrodynamics and satellite navigation. He has had internships with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology and with FreeWave Technologies in Boulder. He was a mentor for the Amercian Astronautical Society STEM-SCAPE Conference and a student representative for the 12th Annual Space Business Roundup in Denver. He also rows on the university’s crew team.
Jillian M. James - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jillian James is a graduate student and Lincoln Laboratory Scholar in the Space Systems Analysis Group. She also has interned at NASA Kennedy Space Center. James belongs to the Graduate Association of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Lincoln Laboratory Technical Women’s Network, and she is a mentor for Team America Rocketry Challenge, provides technology support for the Zero Robotics High School Tournament and is a founding member of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Hispanic/Latino Network. Her current research is focused on autonomous satellite docking using an Inernational Space Station environment.
Kursten K. O’Neill - Rochester Institute of Technology
Kursten O’Neill completed her B.S. in mechanical engineering at RIT and has joined SpaceX as a certification integration engineer. She completed student cooperative programs with Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Moog Space & Defense and Anheuser-Busch. She worked on RIT’s Formula SAE Racing Team, including serving as its public relations chair, and was a member of RIT’s varsity swimming and diving team. O’Neill also completed the Dale Carnegie Leadership Program.
Viha Parekh - University of Queensland
Viha Parekh graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Queensland in Australia. She spent one year of her undergraduate studies at Purdue University and also attended St. Peters Lutheran College in Australia. Parekh was a student intern for Northrop Grumman in Australia and a research scholar for the university’s Center for Advanced Imaging. She was a member of the AIAA chapter at the university and a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Parekh also volunteered as treasurer of the Australian Youth Aerospace Forum and with Ironbark Outdoor Experience Program. She participated in the Purdue Contemporary Dance Company and studied with the Royal Academy of Dance in Australia.
Elaine Petro - University of Maryland
Elaine Petro earned her B.S. degree in aerospace engineering at Maryland, where she is now a graduate student. She was selected for the Future Faculty Fellowship, Amelia Earhart Research Fellowship and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Her presentation at the 2015 Society of Satellite Professionals International student research competition was judged as the most effective, and she was chosen in 2013 as best teaching assistant in UMD’s aerospace engineering department. She volunteers on the Graduate Student Advisory Committee, Women in Aeronautics and Astronautics, Goddard Ski Club and UMD Club Field Hockey. She is a member of both Sigma Gamma Tau and Tau Beta Pi honor society. Petro was an intern for Lockheed Martin Mission Support Services and had student experiences at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Pablo Trefftz Posada - University of Washington
Pablo Trefftz Posada completed his B.S. in aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan before enrolling as a graduate student in aeronautics and astronautics at Washington. His research is focused on direct numerical simulation of droplet-laden homogeneous shear flow and its effect on the kinetic energy budget. He has worked with the Ford Motor Co. and was an intern with GE Aviation Systems in mechanics life analysis and operations management. At Michigan, Posada was a member of the M-Fly Aerodynamics Team and Sigma Gamma Tau.
Ariel Sandberg - University of Michigan
Ariel Sandberg, a sophomore in the aerospace engineering program, is the publication chair for Students for the Exploration and Development of Space and a mentor in the Women in Science and Engineering Residence Program at Michigan. She also is a member of AIAA and the Society of Engineers and served as a docent at the Space Odyssey Exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Sandberg was chosen as the winner of the Cooley Writing Contest for engineering undergraduates at Michigan. She interned at Nilar Inc., National Public Radio and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research seeks to increase the yield, costeffectiveness and reliability of cubesat solar panel fabrication.
James P. Stewart - Virginia Polytechnic and State University
A junior in aerospace engineering, James P. Stewart is a member of the AIAA student chapter at the university and the director of safety and training for the Blue Ridge Soaring Society gliding club in New Castle, Virginia. Stewart interned as a UAV pilot at Avid in Blacksburg, Virginia, is a chief UAV pilot for the university’s Unmanned Systems Lab and an advisor and pilot for the university’s Design Build Fly team. In addition, as a Yale Entrepreneurial Institute Fellow, Stewart is co-founder and president of Grovio, a startup aiming to democratize precision agriculture, for which he has engaged partner farms and developed a multispectral-image-collection system and processing algorithm.
Lauren N. Trollinger - University of Maryland
A master’s degree candidate in aerospace engineering, Lauren N. Trollinger is specializing in rotorcraft engineering. She has a B.S. from Maryland in aerospace engineering with a minor in project management. Trollinger has been an intern with Sikorsky Aircraft, Sikorsky Innovations and Wyle Aerospace Group. She is a student member of the board for the American Helicopter Society’s Federal City Chapter, founding member of the UMD Women in Aeronautics and Astronautics chapter, tutor for Academic Success and Tutorial Services at Maryland and president of the AIAA branch at the university. She also served as vice president for the Alpha Omega Epsilon professional engineering sorority.
Samuel Udotong - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A senior in MIT’s aerospace engineering program, Samuel Udotong has a concentration in computer science. He was among the top three competitors in the second round of the MIT Bitcoin Project for his Fireflies mobile app. He interned with Boeing as a satellite system engineer and with Lockheed Martin as a systems engineer. Udotong is a cofounder and technical consultant for Partners in Disaster Recovery, a nonprofit whose members are UAV technology enthusiasts motivated to use UAV technology for disaster relief. He is also the co-founder of the MIT UAV Team.
Christopher Weston - University of Michigan
Christopher Weston is a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering with minors in math and music. He is a member of the M-Fly SAE Aerospace Design Team, the Michigan chapter of AIAA and Tau Beta Pi, and was selected for the GE Student Leadership Conference. Weston’s projects to date include a rotorcraft hovercraft, design and analysis of a theoretical ramjet engine and development of a flight management system. He is a member of the Michigan Marching Band and the Campus Band and participates in intramural soccer.
Sophia Yakoubov - Boston University
A master’s degree candidate in computer science, Sophia Yakoubov completed her B.S. in math at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research has focused on cryptology and encryption as well as automated assessment of secure search systems. In addition to her work as a research assistant with MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, she interned with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Yakoubov has organized and taught a cryptography summer program for high school students and coached middle school children in building an autonomous Lego robot.
Tyrell T. Yorke - Tuskegee University
Tyrell T. Yorke, a senior in aerospace engineering, earned an associate’s degree in mathematics from Moreno Valley College in Southern California. In addition to his selection as a nuclear propulsion officer candidate for the U.S. Navy, Yorke interned with GE Aviation in the engineering/technology sector for marine and industrial engines. He has tutored for Tuskegee’s Center for Academic Excellence and Innovative Learning and participated in the university’s Minority University Research and Education Program with NASA. He is president of the Bioethics Honors Program, a volunteer with the Alabama Rural Ministry, community service chair for his class and a member of the AIAA student chapter as a mentor to inner-city children.
A gallery of twenty undergraduate students and graduates who shown the will to succeed, so far, and are the ones to watch for future aerospace research and development.