Photo Seetha Raghavan

Seetha Raghavan

PhD AAE '08

"The inspiration I derive from seeing the success of AAE faculty and graduates drives me forward and gives me the confidence that I too, can make a difference through my research and teaching."

Why did you choose Aeronautics and Astronautics?
Engineering and especially Aeronautics and Astronautics gives us the ability to push human limits and turn dreams and imagination into reality. In developing technologically advanced systems, aerospace engineers create the ability to do things and go places that nature didn’t provide us the ability to. The beauty of it is that in the search for solutions, we learn more about nature and the reason why things are created the way they are.

Favorite Purdue AAE class or experience?
When I was an undergraduate student in Singapore more than 20 yrs ago - I was introduced to the book by Prof. Elmer F. Bruhn “Analysis and Design of Flight Vehicle Structures”. I told myself that if I ever embarked on a PhD (which I finally did 8 years later) then I would go to Purdue, home of the talent that created that amazing book. In the spirit of excellent teaching, Purdue has some of the best professors. Dr William Crossley’s Multidisciplinary Design Optimization course was a challenging class that taught me so much – it was a learning experience that stands out in my mind. It’s no surprise that Professor Crossley has won the Elmer Bruhn Award for Outstanding teaching more than once. As a professor, I strive to create a positive impact on students the way he does and hope one day to inspire dreams the way Elmer Bruhn did for me.

What organizations or activities were involved in at Purdue? What did you gain from that involvement?
As a graduate student at Purdue I was a mentor to undergraduates participating in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program at Purdue. It taught me how to be an effective mentor in research – communicating and sharing my ideas to inspire others in research. It was an immensely positive experience just to learn to be a mentor and the outcomes of success from the students I mentored just made it all the more amazing. Mentoring is a big part of how I run my research laboratory now.

What are you doing currently?
I previously worked at an aerospace company in structural repair, maintenance and analysis and enjoyed the challenges of finding real-time solutions to many different situations. In my current job as an Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida, I teach classes and work with students on research ideas to develop next generation aerospace structures and materials. I guide them to develop and perform experiments in our lab and at national facilities, understand and analyze results and make decisions that will bring us closer to our goals. I work to make engineering an exciting experience for them and lead them towards opportunities to develop their engineering career.

What are your ultimate career goals? 
My immediate goals for the future are to be a great teacher and mentor to my students and to build a successful research program. In the long term, I hope to develop my research with my students and together make significant scientific impact to the aerospace engineering community.

How is your Purdue AAE degree helping you achieve your goals?
Purdue’s AAE alumni and professors have made and are constantly making significant contributions to the Aeronautics and Astronautics community. The inspiration I derive from seeing the success of AAE faculty and graduates drives me forward and gives me the confidence that I too, can make a difference through my research and teaching.  

What advice do you have for current AAE students?
The key to success is to always dream big dreams. You can only go far if you set your targets high. Draw inspiration from people around you who have beaten all odds to get where they are and think of your stumbling blocks only as instruments that make you stronger and more resilient to challenges that you will face in the future. Never be afraid to take on a challenge and have confidence that you will succeed. There are many occasions along the way when you may find yourself faced with an opportunity to prove yourself, take it and the success will make you distinct from others who stayed on the beaten track. Build on the support system that your family and friends provide to help you move forward in achieving both your career and family goals.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I spend my free time learning new things and discovering what I am capable of along with my two sons who are in college and high school. We have done art classes and more recently pottery classes together – we think up challenging projects and make them happen. Through this, we have met inspiring artists who are great mentors to us. I also enjoy learning languages. Art and language have a place in Engineering and I enjoy connecting them when I get an opportunity to do so.

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