Twenty Outstanding Students Emerge as Aerospace Leaders
Every so often, someone comes along who is going to change the world. What remains to be seen is where and when that someone will have the opportunity. With that in mind, Aviation Week and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) collaborated with universities around the world to identify 20 undergraduate or master’s degree students who already are forging ahead on that mission. And when the AIAA panel finished the evaluations, one thing emerged—more than 70 students clustered at the top of the rankings.
Keenan E.S. Albee
Keenan E.S. Albee will graduate from Columbia University this May with a degree in mechanical engineering and minors in computer science and history. He has completed internships at Boeing and Johns Hopkins University, and he held a research associate role at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center. In addition to research in kinematics simulation of a robotic neck brace, Albee has developed carbon fiber and aluminum structures. He is the co-president of the Columbia Space Initiative, served on the Executive Council of the university’s Maker Space student workshop, and was the aerodynamics system lead for Columbia’s Formula racecar in SAE’s competition. On top of these achievements, Albee is a hacker—legitimately. He was the Hack MIT Best Synaptics winner in 2015, won the Craziest Hack prize at the YHack, and was the Yodel Hardware Hack Winner at HackPrinceton.
Geoffrey Andrews earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Lehigh University and is now a graduate student at Purdue University in astronautical engineering. He was a co-op student employee at NASA Glenn Research Center, a research assistant in the Lehigh Aerospace Systems Lab and an undergraduate research fellow at the Lehigh Bio-Nanomechanics Lab, where he worked on a method to fabricate micro fluidic devices using direct-light processing lithography on a microscopic scale. Andrews is the chief maintenance officer for Purdue Pilots Inc., was founder and first president of Lehigh’s chapter of AIAA and a member of the university’s Philharmonic Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Marching 97.
Jakob Bludau will finish his master’s degree in mechanical engineering this year at Technical University of Munich. He has served as a research assistant in the university Internal Combustion Institute and at the Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics Institute. He also was an intern at Eurocopter Deutschland where he worked in destructive and non-destructive test. Notably, Bludau holds a European patent through Eurocopter for an ultrasonic testing protocol for mechanical components. In addition to his technical studies, Bludau serves on the university’s Student Governance body and the head of its university politics division, which oversees the development and certification of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for mechanical engineering. He volunteered for civil service for one year in Ecuador where he taught English, protection of the environment and computer training.
Julia CrowleyFarenga was this year’s 20 Twenties top student. She is working on her master’s degree at Purdue University and earned her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at MIT in 2016. Julia has worked with two of the companies pushing the envelope in today’s new space race – both SpaceX and Blue Origin. Last summer, before beginning her graduate work at Purdue, CrowleyFarenga joined SpaceX as an employee working on advanced Mars technology concepts.
John L. Deaton
John L. Deaton is ranked #1 in his class at the U.S. Air Force Academy based on a combination of academic, military, and athletic performance. As a first-class cadet he was chosen for the Wing Outstanding Four Degree— which designates the best- all-round cadet. An aeronautical engineering major, his minor is in Chinese. Deaton is a flight commander, responsible for the development and performance of 25 underclassmen and was Cadet Director of Operations for the academy’s 94th Flying Training Squadron. He interned at NASA Johnson Space Center on data reduction methods and optimization for a flush air data system for the SpaceX Dragon Crew Capsule. In addition to the rigors of the academy, Deaton traveled to the Dominican Republic to work with Rays of Hope International, providing manual labor in support of local projects to aid an impoverished community.
Julia Di is a junior at Columbia University, majoring in electrical engineering. She has been a research assistant at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and was a laboratory associate at Columbia's Carleton Lab. Di founded Columbia’s Space Initiative and was designated a super-user at the university’s Maker Space. She was also chosen for the Res Inc. program at Columbia—only 30 students from across the university are chosen for this student residential entrepreneurship incubator.
Jennifer Domanowski will graduate from Boise State University this May with a degree in materials science and engineering and a certificate in Korean. She was a Pathways intern at NASA at Goddard, Glenn and Marshall Space Flight Centers. She is president of the Tau Beta Engineering honor society, a peer ambassador for the university’s College of Engineering, and a member of AIAA. Domanowski managed an engineering lab at Boise State, and developed new experiments for lab modules for the university’s undergraduate courses. She is a first-generation college student, and of particular note is her passion for education, sharing with her peers and future STEM students.
Karl Domjahn is earning his master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering at The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. In addition to his coursework at Queensland, Karl worked at the Mobile Rocket Base with German aerospace center DLR on research in sounding rockets, to include the design and build of mechanical mountings to secure measurement hardware within a flight module. Domjahn is the national secretary of the Australian Youth Aerospace Association.
Alexander W. Feldstein
Alexander W. Feldstein is working on a master’s degree in aerospace engineering at MIT, where he also earned his bachelor’s degree. He has worked at the computational design laboratory as a research assistant and undergraduate researcher. He also was an undergraduate research assistant at the Imperial College of London.
Feldstein interned with Boeing’s Research and Technology group and for the Cessna Aircraft Company, now Textron Aviation. He also was selected for MIT’s de Florez Award for individual undergraduate research projects and was recognized with the Aero/Astro Teaching Assistantship Award. A coxswain for MIT’s heavyweight crew, Feldstein is a member of the MIT Student Athletic Advisory Committee, where he coordinated community service, athletics promotion and athlete well-being for all of MIT’s varsity athletes.
Brian Free is earning a master’s degree in flight dynamics and control at the University of Maryland, focusing on bio-inspired robotics at the vestibular system level. He graduated at the top of his undergraduate aerospace class at Maryland in 2015 and is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. In addition to his aerospace studies, Free is treasurer of the Terps Roots and Shoots, a student organization that coordinates community, environmental and animal projects.
Kelly Henckel is a junior at the University of Michigan, majoring in computer science engineering with a focus on aerospace engineering. She interned at Northrop Grumman and was co-lead researcher on camera systems research and embedded system controls. For her research project at Michigan, she was the lead software and electrical engineer on development of a hovercraft. Beyond her engineering pursuits, Henckel is a member of the RC Players Theater, Michigan Biological Software Team and the Michigan Rifle Team.
Rebecca E. Hill
Rebecca E. Hill also is a junior majoring in aerospace engineering and was co-founder of the Women in Aeronautics and Astronautics organization at Michigan. She is a copy editor at the Michigan Daily, the university’s student newspaper, and served as a teacher and tutor with the EKARI Foundation, teaching English in rural Africa to help students prepare for their national college entrance exams.
Matthew R. Hurst
Matthew R. Hurst is a senior at the University of Colorado at Boulder, majoring in aerospace engineering. His technical research has included the applications of multiple-fidelity modeling in airfoil design and analysis. He served as project manager of a Capstone project to design, build and test a proof-of-concept light detection and scanning system for extraterrestrial spacecraft landing. Hurst was a member of a three-person team competing in the International Mathematical Contest in Modeling—and that team was chosen as one of six outstanding teams among 4,094 teams. He interned with Lockheed Martin, where he was recognized as an outstanding intern, and he also interned with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Systems Division. He traveled to Puerto Penasco, Mexico to build housing for homeless families and helped to build and wire a home for a local family in Guatemala.
Rubbel Kumar is a master’s degree student in aerodynamics and propulsion at the University of Maryland, where he also earned his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering. Concurrent with being a graduate student, Rubbel is on staff at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where he has worked since August 2014.
With fluency in Hindi, Punjabi and Spanish, Kumar participated in leadership essentials at Loyola University and has amassed more than 260 volunteer hours working with organizations ranging from the APL Center for Talented Youth, Maryland Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement and the UMD Women in Aeronautics and Astronautics Day.
Braven C. Leung
Braven C. Leung is a graduate student at Georgia Institute of Technology after completing his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His graduate research is focused on the FAA’s Continuous Lower Emissions, Energy and Noise Program. Leung worked as a consultant intern for Booz Allen Hamilton, and as a flight systems avionics intern for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He also interned as a systems engineer for Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems. He has a National Defense Science Engineering Graduate Fellowship, received the Dale Margerum Memorial Award for Outstanding Leadership at Illinois and was selected for the NASA SpaceOps Student Award for technical and scientific excellence.
Wanyi Ng graduated from Duke University with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering and is currently in the master’s degree aerospace program at University of Maryland. She was a Pathways Intern at NASA Goddard. As an undergraduate, Ng was the vice president of finance for the Duke Engineers for International Development and worked with Brazilian undergraduate engineering students to implement a rainwater catchment system. She also worked on design of a gray-water management and water distribution system in Honduras. She is active in AIAA, American Helicopter Society, Society of Women Engineers and American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Beyond her studies and volunteerism, Ng is a part-time company artist with the DC Contemporary Dance Theater in Washington, DC
Kristen Railey is a graduate student in a joint program between Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. She earned her B.S. degree in mechanical engineering at MIT in 2013. Currently Railey is a tactical navigation fellow at Draper Labs and was an assistant with Lincoln Lab’s Advanced Undersea Systems and Technology group. She founded an outreach program for high school girls, “Girls Who Build,” to increase the number of women in engineering. She also published online curricula—Make Your Own Wearables and Girls Who Build Cameras.
Christine Reilly is a junior at the University of Colorado majoring in aerospace engineering, with a minor in astronomy and participating in the Discovery Learning Apprenticeship Program. She interned with The Aerospace Corporation and was a systems engineer for the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. She was project manager on the gateway to space balloon satellite project at the university and was named a winner of the International Mathematical Contest in Modeling, placing among the top five of 2,280 international undergraduate teams in 2015. A National Merit finalist, she was awarded the Virgin Galactic Unite Bytheway Scholarship.
Rose Weinstein graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland and is now working toward her master’s degree. In addition to her research at the university, she was a summer intern at NAS Patuxent River with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems and was a flight test engineer at Baltimore Washington International Airport. A former vice president of the Women in Aeronautics and Astronautics organization at Maryland, Weinstein was an ambassador for the James Clark School of Engineering.
Emily M. Zimovan
Emily M. Zimovan will complete her master’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering at Purdue University in May. She earned her B.S. at Purdue, accumulating a perfect grade point average. Zimovan interned at NASA Johnson Space Center, where she worked in guidance, navigation and control autonomous flight systems and optical navigation. She was an aeronautics scholar at NASA Langley Research Center, working on experimental hypersonic aero thermo dynamics, and also worked as an intern on the James Webb Space Telescope at Goddard. Zimovan received the Purdue Industrial Roundtable Scholarship and the Space Shuttle Memorial Scholarship, among a number of others.