AAE students selected for SWE scholarships

Two AAE students, Lara Cackovich and Rozaine Wijekularatne, received scholarships from The Society of Women Engineers.

Two AAE students, Lara Cackovich and Rozaine Wijekularatne, received scholarships from The Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

Lara Cackovich

SWE has been providing scholarship opportunities for women in engineering and technology for about 70 years. Its scholarships support women who are pursuing an ABET-accredited bachelor or graduate degree program in preparation for careers in engineering, engineering technology and computer science.

Cackovich, a senior in AAE, was one of five students to receive the Northrop Grumman SWE Scholarship, available to freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. She’ll receive $5,000. Cackovich is specializing in propulsion with a minor in systems and design.

“I am very honored to have received this scholarship, as I think it’s very important to be recognized by women in my field of study,” Cackovich said.

Wijekularatne, a Ph.D. student in AAE, was selected as recipient for the Mary Jones Berry Scholarship and will receive $1,250, renewable for two years. Jones, an expert in solid propellant rocket motor design, endowed the scholarship is 2013 for female engineering graduate students at Georgia Tech, Penn State, Purdue, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

Rozaine Wijekularatne

Wijekularatne’s research is in the area of Signals of Opportunity (SoOp), a remote sensing technique utilizing reflections of digital communication satellite signals from the Earth’s surface, in a bistatic radar configuration, to estimate various geophysical parameters, such as ocean windspeed and soil moisture. Under advisor James Garrison, Wijekularatne is working on analyzing SoOp signals from the Sirius XM satellites collected in flights through several hurricanes in 2014 and applying new signal processing methods to study the sensitivity of the autocorrelation of the reflected signal to varying wind conditions. She’s also investigating other signal sources that could be useful for SoOp applications, like the new and upcoming low-Earth orbit mega-constellation Starlink. She’s designing an experiment to capture those signals using the Purdue Terrestrial Observatory, located north of Chaffee Hall.

I am honored and grateful to receive the Mary Jones Berry Scholarship from SWE. Re-entering the PhD program after a hiatus has been difficult, especially during this time period with COVID-19. Having scholarships such as this that support and empower women engineers is such a motivation and strength to keep moving onward,” Wijekularatne said. “While SWE scholarships provide essential financial relief, it is more of an investment in a woman’s future potential and engineering journey. As a woman in engineering, one of my sincere hopes is to inspire girls to pursue adventures in STEAM by volunteering my time and skills with Go DREAM Initiative in Sri Lanka."