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Via Satellite’s Top Student and Young Professional Achievements of 2019

Via Satellite has a long history of issuing industry professional, technology, entrepreneur, and executive leadership awards, but we haven’t yet had the opportunity to recognize student awards and grants from future leaders of our industry around the world. We would like to take this time to highlight what we felt were some of the most notable aerospace and engineering student achievements of 2019.

It is important to note that we did not rank these awards by any specific value system. Our selections were presented to us by readers and contributors, and they are presented in the following list in alphabetical order by last name. Via Satellite would like to congratulate these and the thousands of other aerospace students who received awards and grants in 2019!

1. Veronica Bandini, Aerospace Engineering Student, Sapienza University

Women In Aerospace-Europe (WIA-E) Student Award Grant 2019

Veronica Bandini is currently studying aerospace engineering at Sapienza University in Rome. A Women In Aerospace-Europe (WIA-E) jury recently awarded Veronica with its 2019 Student Award and grant in recognition for her contributions to space education outreach efforts, and her excellent project team leadership, including in Space hands-on student projects.

Veronica used the WIA grant to help her team mates in the REXUS-BEXUS Program participate in the launch campaign at Esrange in Sweden in October 2019. was involved with the TARDIS experiment as Team Leader and responsible of the Mechanical and Actuation Design. The experiment was selected for the REXUS/BEXUS Program organized by SNSA, DLR and The European Space Agency (ESA). It was launched from Esrange (Sweden) in late October 2019 and flew on a BEXUS 28 spacecraft.

Veronica previously worked with the Sapienza Space Team, a part of the Sapienza Aerospace Student Association branch of the American Institution of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). She worked as Communication and Data Handling (CDH) responsible for Flight Software (FSW) design and took part at the CanSat Competition in Stephenville, Texas.

She also recently published and presented a paper titled, “Stratospheric Balloon attitude and position determination system based on the VHF Omnidirectional Range signal processing: TARDIS Experiment” at the conference Metrology for Aerospace in Turin in June 2019.

2. David Huynh, Aerospace Engineer, CalTech University

2019 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award

David Huynh is a PhD candidate at Caltech, studying fluid mechanics. He studies turbulence to further our understanding of and ability to model chaotic and pervasive phenomenon. In 2019, he was named a recipient of the 2019 Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award, for his research work alongside Professor Beverley McKeon. David’s doctoral research investigates the interaction between a turbulent boundary layer and a compliant surface through experiments that employed a unique dynamic roughness forcing. The Richard B. Chapman Memorial Award is given to an EAS graduate student in hydrodynamics who has distinguished himself or herself in research.

Outside of his research, David mentors community college students as they begin their STEM careers, which has deepened his interests in learning, teaching, and outreach. “My graduate experiences at CalTech have developed my technical and leadership skills and prepared me for a purposeful career in Aerospace,” says Huyhn.

3. Dr. Miad Karimi, Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Tech University

2019 National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship

Dr. Miad Karimi has been selected to receive the 2019 National Research Council (NRC) postdoctoral fellowship to begin research under the auspices of the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.

The NRC Research Associateship Programs (RAP) annually selects promising early-career PhDs to work on a variety of funded projects. Advised by AE professor Dr. Wenting Sun and ME professor Dr. Devesh Ranjan, Karimi defended his doctoral research, "Investigation of High-Pressure Methane and Syngas Autoignition Delay Times" in August; he will formally receive his doctoral degree from the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering in December. In the meantime, Karimi begins his post doc assignment with the Air Force Research Lab early next week.

"I cannot say enough about the support I received from my Georgia Tech advisors, Professor Wenting Sun and Professor Devesh Ranjan," says Karimi, who earned his undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees at Tech. "They supported me in the lab, in the classroom, everywhere. I could not have seen this success without them."

His AE advisor returned that praise in the form of professional respect. “Miad has always been a very solid, a very diligent researcher and student,” says Sun, who heads up the Reacting Flows and Diagnostics Group within AE's Ben T. Zinn Combustion Lab.

“Not only did he help us to build the lab's shock tube from scratch - working with the overseas manufacturer to make sure it all came together and training new graduate students to use it — but he also figured out how to collect useful data and to analyze the results. When he presented his work outside of Tech, he actually attracted new collaborators to our lab. We could not have been more pleased with him.”

4. Monica Morales, PE, ENV SP, M.ASCE, Jacobs

2019 Daniel W. Mead Prize For Younger Members Award (ASCE) & 2019 New Face of Civil Engineering Award (ASCE)

While this award is not specific to aerospace engineering, we thought it deserved recognition for its importance across all engineering practices. Monica Morales has a master’s degree in civil engineering and works as a water engineer for Jacobs in Los Angeles. In 2019, the America Society of Civil Engineers awarded her with the 2019 Daniel W. Mead Prize for Younger Members for a paper she authored titled, “Inclusion and Diversity: Engineering Ethics.” The prize was established and endowed in 1939 by Daniel W. Mead, a former president of ASCE.

In the summary of this paper, Morales writes, “The need to improve and innovate in civil engineering is becoming increasingly important as both population and demand grow while resources remain limited. Groups that are diverse can process and consider information with greater depth and accuracy than groups that are homogeneous. Diversity requires members of a group to consider numerous perspectives and more thoroughly process information that is presented to them. This is important for civil engineers as they plan and perform their work, which will have lasting impacts on communities.”

Additionally, ASCE honored Morales as a “2019 New Face of Civil Engineering.” Morales has helped organize numerous events and reached thousands of students in the Greater L.A. area. She has recently set up hands-on STEM activities for kids, including a “Dream Big” event for Angeles Mesa Elementary — a completely free field trip, with buses, the movie, and museums for more than 400 students.

5. Salam Mulhem, Aerospace Engineering Student, Moraine Valley Community College (MVCC)

2019 Coca Cola Scholars Foundation Prize

The Coca Cola Scholars Foundation awarded a $1,000 scholarship award to Illinois-based student Salam Mulhem, which will help her earn a degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Illinois. Mulhem wants to study aerospace engineering so she can one day participate in a space exploration mission to land on Mars.

Mulhem participated in an MVCC program guarantees her a spot at the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Only 150 of 2,000 students that applied for the award were granted a scholarship. Mulhem was an Aerospace Student Scholar Researcher at the Langley Research Center in Virginia in the Summer and Fall of 2018. While there, she participated in a group that designed a working model of a Mars Rover and then competed against models built by other teams. She also serves as president of MVCC’s STEM education program.

6. Arnau Pons, Purdue University, Co-Chair of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC)

High-Fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamic Simulations

Arnau Pons is an aerospace engineer with experience in design, development, simulation, manufacturing, and testing of aerospace systems, propulsion systems and unmanned aerial vehicles. Dr. Pons was recently awarded the “la Caixa” fellowship in order to complete his PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. As part of his research he performed high-fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamic simulations to study combustion instabilities in liquid rocket engines for the U.S. Air Force Center of Excellence on Multi-Fidelity Modelling of Rocket Combustion Dynamics.

Dr. Pons is also currently working at the Operational Experimentation Branch of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, VA. At this capacity, he is investigating in the Military Uses of Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Robotics (AA&R) in competitive areas such as the electromagnetic spectrum, integrated air and missile defense, logistics, and the space, cyberspace, air, land and maritime domains.

In April 2019, Dr. Pons was elected Co-Chair of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) in support of the United Nations Program on Space Applications. SGAC is a non-governmental, non-profit organization and network of more than 15,000 members which aims to represent university students and young space professionals ages 18 to 35 to the United Nations (UN), space agencies, industry and academia. His responsibilities include leading the SGAC Executive Committee, coordinating the teams composed of over 100 volunteers, creating an endowment fund and elaborating strategic plans to continue the expansion and growth of SGAC.

7. Kirsten Strandjord, Post-Graduate Student, University of Colorado, Boulder

John A. Vise Graduate Student Excellence Award - GNSS Modeling, Monitoring, and Utilization Research

Kirsten Strandjord received a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics with an astrodynamics specialization from Purdue and is now a post-graduate student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has studied the very stable clocks on board the latest GPS IIF satellites and proposed an improved prediction of GPS satellite clock variations based on their daily repeatability.

In 2019, she was presented the University’s John A. Vise Graduate Student Excellence Award in recognition of academic excellence, significant research contributions in GNSS modeling, monitoring, and utilization for positioning in challenging environments. She was also recognized for outstanding service to the community through her work to support graduate, undergraduate, and K-12 student development as lead TA, the AEROBUDS program, and other outreach efforts on behalf of the Ann and H.J. Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department.

John A. Vise Graduate Student Excellence Awards were established in 1999 by Mildred Vise. It honors the memory of her son, John A. Vise, a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder. The award, which consists of a certificate and a $3,000 fellowship, is presented annually to two PhD students who have demonstrated excellence in academics and research, and who have contributed community service. The other 2019 award recipient was Mike Lotto, a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow performing research at the interface between space systems engineering and Mars geology.

8. Simone D'Amico, Student Space Rendezvous Laboratory Team, Stanford University

Group Diploma of Honor, Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), National Aeronautic Association (NAA)

Simone D’Amico, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics, along with his team at the Space Rendezvous Laboratory (SLAB), recently received the Group Diploma of Honor from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). The award was established in 1965 to recognize significant contributions to the progress of aeronautics and astronautics by design offices, scientific bodies, aeronautical publications, and other groups. D’Amico and his team were recognized for their significant contribution to the development of navigation systems for high-altitude aeronautics and astronautics applications, including flight recorders for the Airbus Perlan, an unpowered glider with an altitude world record of 76,000 feet.

The Space Rendezvous Laboratory conducts fundamental and applied research at the intersection of astrodynamics, navigation and control to enable future miniature distributed space systems. These miniature systems are composed of two or more small satellites that work together to accomplish objectives otherwise impossible to achieve using a large spacecraft. Some of their research projects include the miniature distributed occulter/telescope (mDOT), which images objects near distant stars, and the Starling formation-flying optical experiment (StarFOX) for autonomous optical navigation in deep space.

NAA, dedicated to the art, sport and science of aviation, is the oldest national aviation organization in the United States and a founding member of the FAI. D’Amico received the award on behalf of the SLAB team at the NAA fall awards dinner on Nov. 27 in Arlington, Virginia.

9. Joseph Ward, Founder, SmallSpark & Astrophysics Student, Cardiff University

Cardiff University Student Start-up Awards 2019 – Top Prize

Santander Universities awarded a Cardiff Student Start-Up Awards $2,785 (2,500 euros) top prize to Cardiff University Astrophysics Student, Joseph Ward, in recognition of SmallSpark, an aerospace start-up Ward founded in 2018. Smallspark is a Welsh aerospace company with its headquarters in Cardiff Bay. The company is working to develop hybrid engine launch vehicle technology to drive the price of access to space to be low enough for anyone to send payloads into space — be it on a sounding rocket or an orbital launch vehicle.

In addition to the cash prize, Ward and his team at SmallSpark will also receive a package of legal support from Cardiff law firm, Darwin Gray. “I am incredibly proud of the entire Smallspark Development team for the work they've done,” says Ward. “There have been long all-nighters to get us to where we are now but its finally beginning to pay off and I cannot wait for our team to grow a little larger soon. I want to make Smallspark the lead small launch vehicle provider in all of Europe within the decade and a company Wales can be proud of.”

Hosted by Tramshed Tech, The Cardiff University Student Start-up Awards 2019 were supported by Santander Universities, TramshedTech, Darwin Gray, WorkBench, and Engineers in Business Fellowship.

10. Anil Yildirim and Sicheng He, PhD Candidates, University of Michigan College of Aerospace Engineering

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Student Paper Competition (First and Second Prize)

Anil Yildirim and Sicheng He, PhD students in the Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) Laboratory, won first and second place in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Aviation’s MDO Student Paper Competition this year.

Yildirim is a PhD candidate in aerospace engineering and scientific computing who has been working with the MDO Lab since 2017. Currently, he is developing algorithms for MDO applications. His winning publication, “Aeropropulsive design optimization of a boundary layer ingestion system” discusses a concept in which “the main propulsion system or an auxiliary fan is used to ingest the wake generated by the aircraft to improve aeropropulsive performance.”

Specifically, Yildirim’s research focused on optimized designs that demonstrate how shaft power, thrust, and stagnation pressure distribution at the wake are related. In the next stage of his research, Yildirim will continue working on the STARC-ABL configuration described in his paper and he will perform more design studies to better understand the design of boundary layer ingestion systems.

The second-place winner, Sicheng He (BSAE ‘13, MSAE ‘15) is a longtime Wolverine who started his undergraduate career with UM Aerospace in 2012 UM-SJTU (Shanghai Jiao Tong University) dual degree program. His paper, “A coupled Newton–Krylov time-spectral solver for wing flutter and LCO prediction,” deals with new methods of solving for high-fidelity flutter boundary results. These results can prove useful in understanding how to prevent flight disturbances due to wing flutter. He is a fifth-year PhD student preparing to complete his degree in December 2019. His short-term goal is to apply the algorithm in the awarded paper to next-generation aircraft design; eventually, he aspires to become a professor and research ways to improve aircraft safety and efficiency.

Yildirim and He credit and thank MDO Lab Director and Aerospace Professor Joaquim Martins and the other co-authors in their papers (Justin S. Gray, Charles A. Mader, Eirikur Jonsson) for their help in securing their awards. Yildirim’s work was funded by the NASA Transformational Tools and Technologies, and Advanced Air Transport Technology projects. VS