AAE student receives Astronaut Scholarship

Senior Joseph Kirchhoff was one of three Purdue students selected for the honor, which provides up to $15,000 toward tuition, books and fees.

For three ambitious students, hard work and persistence are paying off in big ways. Not only have they been rewarded for their research and academic achievements, they are also now a part of a prestigious group of innovators and industry pioneers. All this, before they even finish their time in the classroom.

Seniors Joseph Kirchhoff, John Putziger and Abigail Sipes are recipients of the 2021 Astronaut Scholarship. The honor will provide them with up to $15,000 toward tuition, books and fees and an important boost in their career pursuits.

Kirchhoff head shot
Joseph Kirchhoff

Founded in 1984 by the six surviving Mercury 7 astronauts, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation honor is known nationwide for being among the highest merit-based monetary scholarships awarded to undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering and math. The scholarships are awarded to students in their junior and senior years of college. The ASF has awarded an Astronaut Scholarship to a Purdue student since 1987. 

The newest scholars were honored at the Innovators Gala in Orlando, Fla. 

AAE's Kirchhoff was the recipient of the Astronaut Scholarship sponsored by Jim Hays in memory of Gene Cernan.

As an undergraduate student, Kirchhoff has numerous accomplishments. He has participated in research with the Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Center, where he focused on composite simulations and modeling; and the Space Flights Project Laboratory, focusing on advanced space systems and in-flight automations. He has also worked as an intern for the Boeing Co. at its Washington and South Carolina locations.

“I have been impressed by his vision to drive the future of composites in aerospace by improving their predictability and reliability,” said R. Byron Pipes, the John L Bray Distinguished Professor of Engineering in the School of Materials Engineering.

Kirchhoff’s academic honors include the Bruce Helfert Memorial Award as an outstanding junior in Purdue’s College of Science or Engineering; Tau Beta Pi induction, of which he was nominated for distinguished academic performance and exemplary character; and induction into the honor society Sigma Gamma Tau.

Kirchhoff has served as student director of the Boilers In Action service organization and as Industrial Relations Committee head for Sigma Gamma Tau Honor Society.

“The scholarship is a way to identify leadership in STEM and give them a resource to pursue their dreams,” Kirchhoff said.

He plans to earn a Ph.D. in computational engineering and wants to “take machine learning and artificial intelligence and apply it to making better tools for engineers to design composites."

Source: Purdue News