Four students, recent graduates selected as Tomorrow's Leaders: The 20 Twenties

Daniel Gochenaur, Caroline Kren, Zachary Marshall and Ryan Strelau were among the group recognized as individuals who are on course "to change the face of the aerospace and defense industry."

Four AAE students and recent graduates were selected as “Tomorrow’s Leaders: The 20 Twenties” by Aviation Week Network.

Daniel Gochenaur, Caroline Kren, Zachary Marshall and Ryan Strelau were among the group recognized as individuals who are on course “to change the face of the aerospace and defense industry,” according to the Aviation Week Network.

Daniel Gochenaur

Kren and Strelau are graduate students in AAE, and Gochenaur and Marshall earned their bachelor’s degrees in May. The four were identified as the top aerospace-bound students from an international field of 61 highly qualified candidates with the final selection based not only on academic performance but also on an ability to contribute to a broader community and to communicate the value of the design/research they’ve undertaken.

It’s the fifth consecutive year at least two AAE students were selected among the 20 recipients and the first time since 2017 that four were selected in one class.

Gochenaur performed research in several topics — including work in conceptual hypersonic design, system-of-systems simulation and analysis, and space systems sizing — while at Purdue and during internships with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s High Speed Systems Division and Boeing’s Virtual Warfare Center.

After receiving his bachelor’s in May, he headed to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for a summer internship. As a Churchill Scholar in the fall, he’ll attend the University of Cambridge, where he’ll pursue a master's of philosophy in engineering with a focus on supersonic aerodynamics and shock-wave boundary layer interactions.

“I am honored to have been selected as part of Aviation Week Network’s 20 Twenties Class of 2021,” Gochenaur said. “I am beyond thankful for my time with Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and am particularly grateful for the support of Professors Dengfeng Sun, Joe Jewell and Dan DeLaurentis over the last several years. Additionally, I want to extend my most heartfelt thanks to my teams at the Air Force Research Laboratory and Boeing’s Virtual Warfare Center. The opportunity to intern at these two-world class organizations has contributed immensely to my academic interests and professional development.” 

Caroline Kren

Kren, an accelerated dual bachelor's/master's student who received her BS from AAE in December 2020, is a current graduate research assistant at Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories. Her projects focus on testing propulsion devices for aerospace companies. These test campaigns encompass designing and building the stands that will hold the test articles, followed by testing these articles once design and build-up is complete. Kren's work facilitates the optimization of rocket engine designs to ensure the viability of robust propulsion technologies. 

Since starting at Zucrow, Kren has co-led the test campaign for a set of heat exchangers and supported a nuclear-thermal (NTP) exhaust combustion device test campaign. 

“I am truly honored to be chosen as one of Aviation Week's 20 Twenties,” Kren said. “One of my goals is to positively impact the aerospace industry, both on a technical level and through advocating for diversity and inclusion in the field. Thank you to my family, Purdue mentors and professors, and friends for their continuous support of my goals. Furthermore, thank you to my internship mentors and co-workers at Blue Origin, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and GE Aviation for the opportunities to experience just how much of a blast propulsion really is. Congratulations to all the past, present and future 20 Twenties.”

Since graduating in May 2021, Marshall has started as a systems engineer at Boeing Defense, Space & Security in St. Louis.

Zachary Marshall

While at Purdue, Marshall contributed to the developments in signal processing and flight tracking capabilities to help safely integrate drones into the national airspace system. Marshall’s work at the Advanced Aviation Analytics Institute for Research laid the foundation for additional research in improving drone detection, identification and localization methods through passive packet intercepting and advanced signal filtering.

“I am beyond honored to be recognized in Aviation Week Network's 20 Twenties Class of 2021,” said Marshall, who received the G.A. Ross Award as the University's outstanding graduating senior man. “I thank my outstanding professors at Purdue for their invaluable instruction, and I am thrilled to be working at the leading edge of aerospace innovation at The Boeing Company.”

Strelau is a second-year master’s student under AAE’s Carson Slabaugh.

Strelau’s research involves using a laser to ignite a rocket engine running on liquid oxygen and gaseous methane with an exit condition near vacuum pressure. The work simulates an engine that would be used on a vehicle in space for small orbital corrections or maneuvering and control. Using methane and oxygen for the application is of high interest due to the capability to produce both propellants on Mars.

Ryan Strelau

The interest recently has led to the development of large rocket engines running on the combination, but smaller thrusters have traditionally used alternate propellants. Using the same propellants for smaller engines throughout the vehicle would avoid the need for additional feed systems, lowering mass of the whole rocket. Laser ignition is being investigated to overcome the difficulties associated with igniting methane and oxygen mixtures rapidly and repeatedly.

“I am incredibly honored and thrilled to be chosen for the Aviation Week’s 20 Twenties award,” Strelau said. “I owe so much thanks to those who have supported me and continue to help me develop as an engineer. Professor Slabaugh, Dr. Rohan Gejji and the fellow students in my research group have all gone above and beyond to teach and prepare me to be considered for such a recognition. I look forward to meeting others who have received this award and working with them in the future to help advance the field of aerospace engineering.”

The 20 Twenties recipients will be recognized at an awards luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton in McLean, Va., outside of Washington D.C., and also will be special guests at the Aviation Week Network’s 64th annual Laureates Awards gala on October 18. The gala honors luminaries from across the industry who have designed, engineered and innovated at the highest levels.