May 2023

Member News 2023 Sperry Award Winner Honored for Contributions to Electrified Aircraft Technologies

A collage featuring a man seated in front of a wind tunnel, students working on an aircraft model, a whiteboard with notes, and a group photo of professionals with a video call in a conference room.
Phillip Ansell, 2023 AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award winner. Credit: Ansell

Lawrence Sperry Award

Each year, AIAA presents the Lawrence Sperry Award to recognize a notable contribution made by a young person, age 35 or under, to the advancement of aeronautics or astronautics. AIAA Senior Member Phillip Ansell has been honored “for outstanding contributions to electrified aircraft technologies and pioneering work toward sustainable aviation.” As noted in his award nomination, he has an innate ability to connect fundamental aerodynamics and system-level aircraft design that underlies his rise as an international leader in electrified aircraft technology and sustainable aviation. He advises a relatively large number of graduate students while also attracting significant research support. In addition to seminal contributions to unsteady aerodynamics, electric propulsion, and flow control, his research in electric aircraft and UAM vehicles has been recognized by NASA when he and his colleagues were awarded a $6 million research grant to establish the Center for High-Efficiency Electrical Technologies for Aircraft, alongside an additional $4 million program to further develop advanced flight hardware prototypes.

Exploring Aerospace and Discovering His Passion

Ever since Ansell was a young kid he had a deep fascination for space. He did all of the typical aerospace nerd things as a kid, launching Estes rockets and constructing fleets of Lego starships. Growing up in south-central Pennsylvania, his family would occasionally visit Washington, DC, where he always requested to visit the National Air and Space Museum. “I always loved seeing the scaled rockets, space capsules, and the SR-71.” Engineering seemed to be a good fit since he was always tinkering with broken electronics or household hardware, and he noted, “Sometimes when I put it back together it would even work! Fixing the vacuum cleaner was a particularly memorable and proud moment for me as a preteen gearhead. … to this day I still get the wave of adrenaline that comes with seeing a system finally working in full swing after tireless attempts.”

Ansell pursued his undergraduate degree at Penn State University and he considered several engineering majors before starting off in the chemical engineering program (the same degree his brother had completed, and as far as Ansell was concerned his brother was the coolest person he knew). “Then I learned what chemical engineers actually do, and I decided it wasn’t for me. This epiphany led me to consider a mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering dual major, but I realized I would get much more fulfillment by pursuing my love of all things space, and I switched to aerospace engineering.”

Ansell thought he had settled on his path until his junior year. He explained, “I was a space cadet student in a class called “Aeronautics” where I learned about classical theories of airfoil aerodynamics. During my time in that class, I feel like my eyes were opened to the beauty of air vehicle aerodynamics, and I decided from then on that this would be the area where I do my life’s work.”

He also decided to pursue a career track as a professor. Ansell met with his Aeronautics professor, Mark Maughmer — AIAA Fellow and a limitless well of inspiration for all things aerodynamics related — for advice on pursuing this path. After being handed a short list of renowned university faculty working in various areas of air vehicle aerodynamics, he noticed that the institution “Illinois” was listed more than any others, and became interested in going there for his graduate degree.

Ansell was connected with Prof. Mike Bragg (another AIAA Fellow) who took him on as a graduate student. He describes how fortunate he was to have the opportunity to have him as an advisor: “Not only did he clearly demonstrate the value of his graduate students by providing his time, energy, and research support, but he also set a stellar example for what it looks like to be an upstanding scholar. All I knew at the time is that he worked on very interesting research programs on experimental airfoil aerodynamics, which is where I wanted to work. After meeting him, seeing the Aerodynamics Research Laboratory, and interacting with some of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Illinois, I decided this was the graduate program for me.”

Honing His Skills

As an undergraduate student Ansell was involved in a nanosatellite design and build activity, NittanySat, which was assembled to participate in the AIAA/AFOSR University Nanosatellite-5 Program. He also participated in undergraduate research with Prof. David Spencer (an AIAA Associate Fellow) at Penn State, where he developed a computational model for the 3-body problem meant to simulate the dynamics of rendezvous with a near-Earth asteroid. Ansell commented, “Looking back, it is amazing how patient Prof. Spencer was with me during this experience, providing the time and energy needed to grow my research thinking. The ordinary differential equations that govern the n-body problem are not untenably complex, and a good graduate student could probably do my undergraduate honor’s thesis as a homework assignment. Evidently, the idea behind working with me was not to establish some groundbreaking research product, but rather to help me grow as a scholar.”

He also completed two internships with Boeing after his 2nd and 3rd years of undergraduate study. In 2007 he worked with the Boeing Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, CA, and acted as a systems engineer on the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) Block 1 program. This experience gave Ansell tremendous exposure to satellite technology and an appreciation for how challenging systems integration can be. He noted, “I think I filled every stereotype of an energetic intern, being enthralled at a chance to work with people who had done so many cool things! An engineer who I closely worked with told me one day that she helped design the power system for the International Space Station. My jaw just about dropped, as instantly in my mind she was now a celebrity.”

His second internship in 2008 connected with his passion for aeronautics, taking place with Boeing Commercial Aircraft in Everett, WA. He worked as a fleet support engineer, primarily supporting review analysis of structural repairs made to doors and windows of Boeing aircraft in service, and gained an appreciation for the complexity in operations across the aviation sector, with collaborative roles taken by aerospace product developers and airline operators. He was encouraged to take quick breaks to go visit the production line, just to admire the impressive flying machines. He remembers how his manager knew he was also interested in air-vehicle aerodynamics, so when the time came for this group to design a mounting system for a pitot-static probe for one of the first Boeing 787 test aircraft, “he handed this task to me. Being able to have something that I designed actually built and put on an airplane was a huge badge of honor at the time.”

During his graduate program at Illinois Ansell also had the chance to do studies and testing campaigns complementary to his primary academic research. He ran experiments for Boeing, wind energy firms, and other industry groups, which included other small-scope projects like studies on electric aircraft. “I was a proverbial lab rat,” he noted, “so I got a lot of enjoyment running various experiments in the wind tunnel – to such an extent that some fellow graduate student friends and I even decided to tackle a side project of interest just for fun. With approval from our advisors to run the wind tunnel experiment, we were able to put together a testing campaign and even put together a full-length paper in the AIAA Journal from the results.” He was also given a chance to serve as the instructor of record for the Applied Aerodynamics course while a graduate student, which helped him learn how inquisitive and curious students can be when you challenge them, as well as how difficult it actually is to create exams, assignments, and other assessment tools that actually serve as meaningful evaluations of learning. Ansell remarked, “This breadth of experiences was quite effective at fostering my love of research and teaching.”

Work and Research Experiences Helped Evolve His Interests

Looking back on his academic career, Ansell noted, “it would be an understatement to say that I was fortunate in some of the opportunities I received. Following a brief stint as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, I was hired as an Assistant Professor. This was a bit of an unconventional move for my home department, and I recognized the risk of bringing an internal candidate on as a junior tenure-track faculty member. I had a grand vision to expand the research of the department into new areas and the department leadership seemed receptive to this approach.”

The very first grant he secured was a NASA program on hybrid-electric aircraft design and performance, which built upon his graduate work on electric aircraft design modeling. Shortly thereafter he received an AFOSR Young Investigator award to study unsteady aerodynamics and the complexities and challenges of this class of experiments was a new experience for him. “Maintaining a fearless attitude about trying something new had its benefits,” he explained, “as I was able to freely explore my interests, but it also came at the cost of having to actually figure out how to do a bunch of new things!”

In total, he conducted studies on many topics including wing and configuration aerodynamics, flow control, airframe icing aerodynamics, unsteady aerodynamics, rotary wing aeromechanics, laminar flow airfoil design, transitional boundary-layer flows, modal analysis of fluid flows, high-lift aerodynamics, distributed-electric and aero-propulsive aerodynamics, and electrified aircraft modeling. However, his focus really changed one day in 2018. “I was sitting in my office, thinking about the research being conducted in the field on electrified aircraft configurations. I was a bit disheartened by how challenging the aircraft closure problem was for battery-electric configurations. Most studies on hybrid-electric aircraft, including my own, required significant concessions in the vehicle payload or performance to produce single-digit percentage improvements in fuel burn characteristics. So I took a step back and had another thought. What fundamental rethinking can we leverage to make a zero-emissions aircraft that actually meets the same performance capabilities of today’s aircraft? Then, it hit me. … What about hydrogen energy systems? And how about utilizing fuel cells instead to produce electric power? To distinguish a new research idea that was a high-risk, high-reward, and radical approach, we could leverage the extremely low temperature of the liquid hydrogen fuel as a cryogen to enable a superconducting power system. I worked with some colleagues to assemble a team, proposed the idea to the NASA University Leadership Initiative program, and we were selected for a large-scale research award to forge new ground.” The Center for High Efficiency Electrical Technologies for Aircraft (CHEETA) was born. Ansell grew to appreciate the tremendous value brought by multidisciplinary research, directing a team of world experts – people who rose to the call and worked together to demonstrate a system that turned out to be far more than the sum of its parts. He views this program as a resounding success, and NASA has selected it to continue into a second phase.

As his role directing CHEETA continued, he concluded that the work of the CHEETA group had great potential to benefit society in new ways. Ansell took a hard look at his research portfolio. “I realized that all of my work in fully-electric, hybrid-electric, and hydrogen-electric aircraft were all motivated by a common theme. I had been doing work pursuant to pathways intended to reduce the climate impact of aviation. I decided then to dedicate my future work to the field of sustainable aviation.” He knew this “would require me to expand the way I traditionally thought about aviation research once more. By considering the integration of novel fuels, technologies, and aircraft designs, it is often easy to forget that these systems exist in a broader ecosystem. To make true assessments about sustainability, one needs to consider not just how aircraft are designed, but how they interact with transportation networks, power and energy sectors, macroeconomics, and global policy. I was able to establish the Center for Sustainable Aviation that seeks to directly address the need for this multidisciplinary mode of thinking, where engineers, economists, political scientists, urban planners, plant biologists, atmospheric scientists, business administrators, public health experts, and others can rally with a common baseline understanding for a common cause.”

Looking to Sustainable Aviation’s Future

Ansell is very excited to see the entire aviation industry taking sustainability seriously, and hopes that the work of the center can provide technical knowledge, future workforce leaders, and helpful guiding insights for a sustainable aviation future. With the commitment that government agencies, international aviation groups, and industry leaders have made to a zero-CO2 aviation sector by 2050, he “looks forward to seeing the roadmap mature for how this future will be built in the next 5 years, as well as some of the exciting work we are conducting in our CHEETA Phase II, when we complete prototype hardware development for hydrogen-electric advanced component technologies. In 10 years, I look forward to seeing the first test flight of a new, zero-emissions aircraft capable of displacing a meaningful proportion of current fossil-derived aviation fuel use. Finally, in 25 years I look forward to seeing the final drop of fossil-derived Jet A/A-1 dispensed as the industry celebrates closing the sustainability loop once and for all.”

Drawing Inspiration from Other Aerospace Professionals

Ansell states his main source of inspiration in the aerospace field has come from his Ph.D. advisor, Mike Bragg. “When I started my journey through graduate school, Prof. Bragg had recently taken the role as Executive Associate Dean for Engineering at Illinois, and part of the way through my Ph.D. program he stepped in as the Interim Dean of Engineering. Despite his extensive list of required duties, he always made time to meet with his students. The more experience that I gain in academia, the more I realize how much of a sacrifice this was, which also tells me how much he valued us. Prof. Bragg demonstrated how to approach the role of a scholar with integrity, as well as the value of hard work. He always knew what to say to make me think just a little bit deeper into certain research problems or ask just the right question that would help me better understand the bigger picture behind our work. His insights challenged me to grow, and his dedication inspired me to be a better academic.”

He also was inspired by Mark Maughmer. “If not for him, I may never have made the jump into the aeronautics field. He is a truly gifted teacher and I owe a great deal of my success to the inspiration he instilled in me 15 years ago. He has taught me that maybe aircraft are more than just spars, ribs, skin, and rivets, but steeped in artistry and creativity. He also taught me what it looks like to care about quality over quantity, and that excelling in something is inconsistent with cutting corners. I often reconnect with him at AIAA forums.”

The Value of AIAA Membership

After joining AIAA in 2010, Ansell has remained a member ever since. He submitted an abstract for the 28th AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference and student registration fees alongside dues for members were cheaper than registration for nonmembers — it seemed logical to become an AIAA member! “After this first conference I remained current as an AIAA member after experiencing the richness of the professional community and recognizing the significance of having a role within the institute. One of the first things that I did after starting my faculty career was become an AIAA Lifetime Member!”

He noted that participating in AIAA “has continued to be a valuable experience. The more you give, the more you get. I think I have gone to every AIAA forum in my discipline (AIAA SciTech and AIAA AVIATION) since 2014. I greatly appreciate the role that AIAA serves within our community as being a curator for technical programming, blending the priorities of academic, government, and industry participants. I haven’t seen a continued culture of broad engagement in other societies I have worked with.”

Ansell joined the Applied Aerodynamics Technical Committee in 2015 and learned how much technical committees do for the Institute. This was also an opportunity to greatly expand his professional network, and AIAA forums were also a place to reconnect with colleagues in addition to viewing and presenting research work. “I gained a great deal through my participation in the Aircraft Electrification Propulsion and Power Working Group, which was a grassroots effort to rally electrification enthusiasts across the broad community. This group was instrumental to establishing the AIAA/IEEE Electric Aircraft Technologies Symposium (EATS), which has truly become the marquee event for technical dissemination on electrified aircraft components, systems, and technologies.” In 2020 he spearheaded the formation of the Electrified Aircraft Technology Technical Committee. Ansell remarked that being a part of these groups “has provided me with lifelong friends and colleagues who have inspired me, motivated me, and enriched my career in countless ways.”

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AIAA Foundation 2023 AIAA Regional Student Conference Winners

A collage of conference events featuring attendees in discussions, group photos, a research presentation, exhibitor booths, and a group standing outside near an airplane.
Scenes from the recent Regional Student Conferences. Credit: AIAA

AIAA is pleased to announce the winners of six of the 2023 Regional Student Conferences. The Institute holds conferences in each region for university student members at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The student conferences are a way for students to present their research in person. They are judged on technical content and presentation skills by AIAA members working in the aerospace industry. Lockheed Martin was the generous sponsor of these conferences, in addition to many other regional-level sponsors.

More than 165 papers were presented by university and high school students across all six regions, with 644 students and professionals in attendance. Additionally, this is the first year student papers presented at the regional student conferences will be published by AIAA.

The first-place university student winners in each undergraduate, graduate, and team categories (listed below) are invited to attend and present their papers at the AIAA International Student Conference, to be held in conjunction with the 2024 AIAA SciTech Forum in Orlando, Florida, 8-12 January.

Region I Winners

Undergraduate Category
1st Place – “Cislunar Explorers Redesign: Multiple, Independent Technology Demonstrations Reduce Mission Risk,” Emily Matteson and Nidhi Sonwalkar, Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)

2nd Place – “Comparison of Capture Quality Indices for Net-Based Capture of Zenit-2 Rocket,” Alexa Schultz and Eleonora Botta, University at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY)

3rd Place – “Multicriteria Analysis of Robotic End-Effectors for Grasping Space Debris,” Melanie Orzechowski and Michael Bazzocchi, Clarkson University (Potsdam, NY)

Masters Category
1st Place – “Influence of Whipple Shield Configuration on Hypervelocity Impact Resistance,” Sean Stokes and Javid Bayandor, University at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY)

2nd Place – “Effects of Flight Configurations on the Performance of Nano-Quadrotors in Hover,” Anoop Kiran and Kenneth Breuer, Brown University (Providence, RI)

3rd Place – “Parallel Unsteady Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (URANS) Studies of the Performance of ONF Waterjet AxWJ-2,” Stephen Monroe, Clarkson University (Potsdam, NY)

Team Category
1st Place – “Design and Testing of an Amphibious AUV,” Michael Beskid, Ryan Brunelle, Calista Carrignan, Robert Devlin, Toshak Patel, and Kofi Sarfo, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA)

2nd Place Tie – “Interstellar Radioisotope Modular Architecture (IRMA),” Christina Decker, Ankur Devra, Sonali Adhikari, Ryan Bantel, Mathis Verjus, and Javid Bayandor, University at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY)

2nd Place Tie – “USMA Army Rocketry and Engineering Sciences (ARES) – NASA Student Launch Competition Team,” Maximus Marchi, Pavel Shilenki, Tavis Cahanding, and Ellery Donya, University States Military Academy (West Point, NY)

3rd Place – “System Design Review (SDR) – Concept Generation for a Cost Efficient, Super-Heavy Launch Vehicle,” Hanna Kruse, Jubel Kurian, Margee Pipaliya, and Rohith Shenoy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, VA)

Region II Winners

Undergraduate Category
1st Place – “Wake Surfing: Vortex Wake Energy Recovery for sUAS’s,” Joseph Westermeyer, University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)

2nd Place – “An Implementation of the A* Search Algorithm for Dynamic Message Routing in Homogeneous Communication Satellite Networks,” Alexandra Ramotar, Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

3rd Place – “An Analysis of the Filter Kernel of TPIV,” Andrew Shi, Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

Masters Category
1st Place – “Investigation of Single Luminophore, Polymer-Ceramic Pressure Sensitive Paint for High Speed Wind Tunnel Testing,” Jamison Murphree, University of Tennessee Space Institute (Tullahoma, TN)

2nd Place – “Indentation Loading of Prismatic Cell Lithium-ion Battery Modules,” Sida Xu, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, FL)

3rd Place – “Aeroacoustic Structures within a Supersonic Cavity,” John Parrish and Tushar Srivastava, North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC)

Team Category
1st Place – “Team Flying Tigers Design, Build, Fly Competition,” James Liu, John Hamer, Ross Jenner, Sean Hopkins, Zachary Perry, Sophie Wood and Jeffrey Marchetta, University of Memphis (Memphis, TN)

2nd Place – “Software Design of RHOK-SAT, a 1U CubeSat to Characterize Perovskites in LEO,” Anas Matar, José Pastrana, Marouf Mohammad Paul, and Zheng Yu Wong, Rhodes College (Memphis, TN)

3rd Place – “Wildfire Identification Via CMOS Sensor Fitted High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) System,” Sam Cupples, Kyle Lindsey, Christian Schafer, Michael Smith, & Rob Wolz, Mississippi State University (Starkville, MS)

Outstanding Branch Activity Category
1st Place – “Florida Tech Outreach,” Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne, FL)

2nd Place – “University of Tennessee AIAA Professional Development Effort,” University of Tennessee Knoxville (Knoxville, TN)

3rd Place – “Delta Tech Ops Tour,” Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

Freshman/Sophomore Open Topic Category
1st Place – “Ocean World Exploration Rover,” Beck Kerridge and Colin Zelasko, Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne, FL)

2nd Place Tie – “History of Spacecraft Fuel Sloshing,” Jesus Delgado, Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne, FL)

2nd Place Tie – “Review of Autonomous Technologies for a Crewed Exploration of the Lunar South Pole,” James Cross, University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

3rd Place – “Analysis of Cost Reduction of Space Travel with the ScramJet,” Mason Roddy, University of Tennessee Knoxville (Knoxville, TN)

Region III Winners

Undergraduate Category
1st Place – “Flow Control Optimization Using Genetic Algorithms with Reduced Order Modeling,” Steven Murawski and Datta Gaitonde, Ohio Steve University (Columbus, OH)

2nd Place – “Experimental Investigation of a Novel Morphing Wing Design,” Xinyu Gao, Julian Pabon, and Jielong Cai, University of Dayton (Dayton, OH)

3rd Place – “Designing and Testing a Tilt-Rotor Mechanism for Horizontal and Vertical Hybrid Flight,” Sidharth Anantha and Ella Atkins, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)

Masters Category
1st Place – “Optimized Collision Avoidance for UAVs with Genetic Fuzzy Inference System,” Shyam Rauniyar and Donghoon Kim, University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH)

2nd Place – “Generation and Characterization of Discrete Vortical Gust,” Andrew Porterfield, Andrew Killian, and Sidaard Gunasekaran, University of Dayton (Dayton, OH)

3rd Place – “Two-Phase Refrigerant R134a Void Fraction Pulse Power Study,” Zachary Carner, Wright State University (Dayton, OH)

Team Category
1st Place – “Design of Thermoelectric Power Generation for Jet Engine Applications,” Ian Binder, Noah Hiler, Eric Imohersteg, Ethan Jack, Antony Kamenny, Hunter Kesler, Anthony Kuenzli, and Ehsan Rahimi, Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)

2nd Place – “Methods for Modeling and Controlling the Flight Path of a High Power Rocket,” Ismar Chew, Myles Taylor, Makena Thompson, Kiley Trine, and Michael Worosz, Trine University (Angola, IN)

3rd Place – “Design of a FRCop-42 Regeneratively Cooled Thrust Chamber Assembly and Feed System,” Dillon Petty, Nicole Zimmerli, and Ana Clecia Alves Almeida, University of Akron (Akron, OH)

Region IV Winners

Undergraduate Category
1st Place – “Development of a Simulator for Proximity Operations Using Multiple Space Vehicles,” Amber Diaz, New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM)

2nd Place Tie – “Design and Evaluation of Propeller Flow Controls to Suppress Boundary Layer Separation for Low Reynolds Number Operations,” Dawson Manning and Kurt Rouser, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK)

2nd Place Tie – “CFD Investigations for Vortex Rings’ Sustainability,” Torres Andrade J. Roberto, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (Juárez, Mexico)

3rd Place – “An Experimental Evaluation of Leading-Edge Surface Roughness Effects on Propeller Performance,” Austin Rouser, Drew Cooley, and Kurt Rouser, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK)

Masters Category
1st Place – “Development of a Turboelectric Ground Test-Rig by Installation of a 180-kW Turboprop onto a Cessna-172,” Joshua Melvin and Kurt Rouser, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK)

2nd Place – “Effect of Tilt Angle of Herringbone Microstructures on Enhancement of Heat and Mass Transfer,” Nathan Estrada and Yanxing Wang, New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM)

3rd Place – “Dandelion-Inspired and Wind Powered Flying Sensors Suite for the Exploration of Martian Lava Tubes and the Martian Surface,” Jared Cannon, Adrian Salustri, and Mostafa Hassanalian, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Socorro, NM)

Team Category
1st Place – “Auroral Spectroscopy,” Aliasghar Shariff, Alicia Dykema, Diego Sosa, Joshlyn Mendez, and Tyler Philo, University of Houston (Houston, TX)

2nd Place – “Rocket-Assisted Take-Off (RATO) System Design for An Existing Jet-Powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV),” Jared Greif, Kyle Hassett, Drew Cooley, Fernando Moran, Quentin Webster, Nolan Blueback, Mason Glover, Noah Quinnett, and Kurt Rouser, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK)

3rd Place – “Preliminary Design, Analysis, and Testing of a Rapid Release Centrifugal Projectile Launcher,” Addison Miller, David Moreno, and Preston Hager, New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM)

Region V Winners

Undergraduate Category
1st place – “Geometric and Material Improvements to Quiet Propeller Design,” Tristan Denholm, Grace Sian, and Charles Wisniewski, United States Air Force Academy (Air Force Academy, CO)

2nd place – “Evaluation of Pilot Task Saturation Characteristics Via Simulated Cognitive Overloading,” Nehemiah Hofer and Mujahid Abdulrahim, University of Missouri Kansas City (Kansas City, MO)

3rd place – “Effect of Compressibility on Simple Models for Body-Freedom Flutter,” Luke Wells and Samuel Stanton, United States Air Force Academy (Air Force Academy, CO)

Masters Category
1st place – “Optimized Artificial Gravity Design for Interplanetary Ships,” William Thornton, Webster University (Colorado Springs, CO)

Team Category
1st place – “Aerodynamic Evaluation of Longitudinal and Lateral-Directional Stability Coupling on the NASA Orion Crew Module,” Patrick Koenig, Joseph Roy, Lucas Yantis, and Casey Fagley, United States Air Force Academy (Air Force Academy, CO)

2nd place – “The Hybrid Environment Immersive Simulation Training System: A Low-Cost, High-Impact Approach to Astronaut Training,” Julia Claxton, Esther Revenga Villagra, Trayana Athannassova, Sebastian Boysen, Lucy Davis, Akanksha Nelacanti, Rachael Carreras, and Sruthi Bandla, University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, CO)

3rd place – “Design, Fabrication, & Flight Testing of a sUAS for EW Mission Spaces,” Kaitlyn Butler, Tessa Blythe, Brooks Miller, Nehemiah Hofer, Mason Early, Juan Calderon, Valentine Echekwu, and Sadiq Hopkins, University of Missouri Kansas City (Kansas City, MO)

Region VI Winners

Undergraduate Category
1st Place – “Characterization of Non-Conical Nozzle Geometries,” Benjamin Martin and Armen Aroutiounian, University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

2nd Place – “Developing Non-Invasive Myo-Sensor for Avian Muscle Sensing (DIMSAM),” Travis Bouck and Nandeesh Hiremath, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (San Luis Obispo, CA)

3rd Place – “A Framework to Improve Weight Estimation and Manufacturing Accuracy for Large Student Design Teams,” Vincent Liu, University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

Masters Category
1st Place – “Development of a Potassium Permanganate Catalyst-Infused Fuel Grain for Hydrogen Peroxide Hybrid Thruster Ignition Enhancement,” Ryan Thibaudeau and Stephen Whitemore, Utah State University (Logan, UT)

2nd Place – “Investigation of Pre-Ignition Propellant Mixing in Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine,” Quentin Roberts, University of Washington (Seattle, WA)

3rd Place – “Calculation and Analysis of the Rejected Takeoff Speed of a Commercial Airliner under Various Environmental Conditions,” James Gonzalez and Thomas Lombaerts, San Jose State University (San Jose, CA)

Team Category
1st Place – “Development and Characterization of an Economical Airfoil Yaw Sensor for Motorsport Applications,” Alvin Ahn, Daniel Bae, Jude Nejmanowski, and Matthew Pozzi, University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

2nd Place – “Human Hand Orthosis Actuated by Shape Memory Alloys for Space Applications,” Olivia Acarregui, Niki Ekström, Bradley Martin, and John Onufer, University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

3rd Place – “SPAMMM – Solar Powered Array for Melting Materials on the Moon,” Parul Singh, Nathan Ng, Avi Patel, Camilo Garrido, Hazel Carey, Saren Daghlian, Rasool Ray, Kemal Pulungan, Sophie Polidoro, Catherine Zheng, and Soon-Jo Chung, California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)

High School Category
1st Place – “Quantifying Phase-Jitter to Improve the Accuracy in Rotor Measurements,” Meenakshi Manikandan, Mission San Jose High School (Fremont, CA)

2nd Place – “Random Vibration Fatigue Analysis of a Simplified Aircraft Model using Ansys LS-DYNA,” Jerry Huang, Dublin High School (Dublin, CA)

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AIAA Foundation Making an Impact: AIAA Foundation Engages with Educators at NSTA Conference

Two photos from an aerospace conference: on the left, five people stand at a booth; on the right, a person engages with three attendees at another booth under a banner.
(Left) AIAA Foundation, Estes Industries and Blue Origin’s Club for the Future partnered to provide educators with resources and materials to engage and inspire the next generation in STEM and aerospace. (Right) Blue Origin astronaut Clint Kelly III joined the booth for a meet-and-greet. Credit: AIAA

In late March, the AIAA Foundation exhibited at the 2023 National Science Teaching Association Conference, the largest gathering of professional science teachers in the United States. Held this year in Atlanta, this conference is an opportunity for educators from around the world to come together and engage in panels, discussions, fireside chats, and interactive share-sessions to learn more about best practices and discover new resources and opportunities to bring back to their students.

In the exhibit hall the AIAA Foundation was joined by partners Estes Industries and Blue Origin’s Club for the Future as they amplified their efforts to provide educators with resources and materials to engage and inspire the next generation in STEM and aerospace. Our Exploration Generation (ExGen) initiative provides educators with free lesson plans, curriculum storylines, and supplemental resources such as webinars to help introduce and guide students as they explore concepts in aerospace, engineering, and rocketry. A playlist of middle school lessons is available now, and elementary school lessons will be released in fall 2023.

As part of Club for the Future’s Postcards to Space initiative, attendees were encouraged to write and decorate postcards to themselves or a friend. The postcards will be flown to space in the New Shepard rocket, stamped “flown to space,” then returned in the mail to the sender – all for free. Whether used as a unique souvenir or a way to engage a whole class full of students with a hands-on STEAM activity that brings space to their fingertip, the postcards were a big hit.

Estes Industries held raffles for attendees to win model rockets and a dinner with a real-life astronaut. In addition, Blue Origin astronaut Clint Kelly III joined the booth for a meet-and-greet. Visitors listened in awe as he described his experience as a member of the NS-22 crew, and his hope that soon even more people will be able to experience space travel firsthand.

The AIAA Foundation representative spoke with science educators about the free Educator Associate membership, the $40,000 in classroom grants distributed annually; the Trailblazing STEM Educator Award, the Kahn Scholarship, the Mentor Match program, and the other programs and tools offered by AIAA to K-12 teachers. It was wonderful to make connections with the educators who are building the next generation of aerospace professionals. Learn more about our programs for teachers at aiaa.org/educators.

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Section News AIAA Rocky Mountain Section Participates in Space Operations Forum

A group of people posing for a photo in a conference room with a presentation screen showing remote participants in the background. The room has tables, chairs, and clocks on the walls.
The Rocky Mountain Section took part in the 1st Annual Space Operations Forum, an event aimed to increase diversity and inclusion within the Colorado Aerospace Community, Credit: AIAA Rocky Mountain Section

On 16–17 February, the 1st Annual Space Operations Forum (SOF-2023), a collaboration between AIAA Rocky Mountain Section and the National Society of Black Engineers – Space City Professionals (NSBE SCP) chapter in Houston, TX, was held at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO. The event aimed to increase diversity and inclusion within the Colorado Aerospace Community, bringing together a group of professionals and students to discuss complex challenges and generate strategic solutions for the advancement of the nation’s capabilities in space.

Five working groups were asked two primary questions related to NASA’s efforts to enable commercial human space exploration:

1. As we open the spectrum of space for all humanity through the efforts of the Commercial Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Development Program—how do we ensure that everyone, not just a select few, has access and gets to participate in enabling access to space in LEO? What can NASA do to ensure more effective inclusion of underrepresented communities in our effort to enable commercialization of space so that the vision of “access to space for all humanity” is realized?

2. What is your recommendation for how NASA and its astronauts operate in a paradigm where we do not own, nor are we operating the orbital platforms in LEO (that we are sending our astronauts to) but are just buying a service as one of many customers? What are some of the things we should consider in this future state?

SOF-2023 also included presentations from NASA officials, a tour of Ball Aerospace’s facility in Boulder, CO, and a virtual reality experience for exploring the interior of Gravitics’ StarMax spacecraft. The event was sponsored by various organizations, including NASA, NREL, and Ball Aerospace. The successful forum fostered collaborative partnerships among participants, enabling them to explore relevant business problems within the space industry, achieve mutual growth, and expand networks.

The 2nd Annual Space Operations Forum is scheduled to be held in 2024 in Houston, TX. More details on SOF-2023 can be found at www.aiaa-rm.org.

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Committee News SAT OC’s Increased Membership and Latest Activities

A group of people posing for a photo in a conference room with an
(Left) Session Chair Nancy C. Wolfson (front middle) with speakers and participants during one of SAT OC’s AIAA SciTech Forum sessions. (Right) AIAA Associate Fellow Anna-Maria Rivas McGowan. Credit: AIAA and McGowan

By: Amir S. Gohardani, SAT OC Chair

The AIAA Society and Aerospace Technology Outreach Committee (SAT OC) has recorded an increasing number of members that include an influx of Young Professionals. This 20% increase in membership marks a positive trend as more individuals take an interest in promoting the transfer of aerospace technology and techniques to help solve critical problems in society and improve the general quality of life. The uptick in the number of Young Professionals also allows for engagement on pressing items related to society and aerospace technology and new opportunities for shaping and discussing topics that affect future generations. SAT OC now has unprecedented possibilities for forming new subcommittees and creating new engagements with the community.

At the 2023 AIAA SciTech Forum, SAT OC hosted several engaging sessions, which were chaired by Nancy C. Wolfson and P K Dash. Wolfson reflected that her goal was “to place the spotlight on our speaker as well as on our audience during the Q&A…we are here to exchange the most current work of our space actors as well as build a community where everyone’s voice is included in the conversation.” SAT OC thanks these session chairs for their service.

Diversity Corner

Name: Anna-Maria Rivas McGowan

Notable Contributions: Dr. McGowan is the Senior Executive for Complex Systems Design at NASA. She serves as a Senior Technical Advisor exploring cutting-edge methodologies in research, design, development, and operations of complex systems including human, organizational, societal, and engineering challenges. Dr. McGowan’s research incorporates quantitative and qualitative methods to integrate fields external to aerospace with engineering approaches to improve aerospace system performance and broader societal impacts. She has over 30 years of experience in aerospace, conducting research and managing large projects where she is recognized as a leading expert in design science and innovation, complex strategy, systems engineering, organization science, advanced and morphing aircraft, adaptive structures and materials, and aeroservoelasticity.

Potential Societal Impact of Contributions: Dr. McGowan has made significant contributions to AIAA, including helping to initiate the Complex Aerospace Systems Exchange (CASE), serving on technical committees, and currently serving on the Design Engineering Technical Committee. She moderated a special session on “Workforce of the Future — What Does Successful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Look Like?” at the 2023 AIAA SciTech Forum. Her expertise in complex systems and design provided the audience with simple and practical tools they can use to foster and increase DEI in the aerospace industry during the discussion with panel members from industry, academia, and the government.

Dr. McGowan’s AIAA honors include the Lawrence Sperry Award and a best paper award. Her Caribbean heritage continues to motivate a value of cultural diversity, collaboration, community, and even laughter in her work.

In collaboration with the AIAA Diversity and Inclusion Working Group and Claudine Phaire, SAT OC is highlighting prominent members of the wider aerospace community in the Diversity Corner.

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AIAA Announcements Standards: AIAA Public Review

Reaffirmation of ANSI/AIAA S-080A-2018, Space Systems — Metallic Pressure Vessels, Pressurized Structures, and Pressure Components, and ANSI/AIAA S-081B-2018, Space Systems — Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels. Both are available in ARC (Aerospace Research Central): for $86 List/Non-Member and $43 Member. Public review deadline is 16 June 2023. Public review comments and questions should be sent to Nick Tongson (nickt@aiaa.org).

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May 2023 AIAA Bulletin