AAE alumni inducted to Purdue OPP Hall of Fame

Caley Burke and Kamwana Mwara, who both have distinguished careers at NASA, got started there through Purdue's co-op program.

The Purdue Office of Professional Practice (OPP) inducted two alumni from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics in to their Hall of Fame this year. Kamwana Mwara (BSAAE ’10, MSAAE ‘13) and Caley Burke (BSAAE ’05) were honored at OPP’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony on the West Lafayette campus.

Burke, a flight design analyst for NASA’s Launch Services Program, sent a pre-recorded acceptance speech from Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida. She analyzes trajectories for NOAA satellite programs. At the time of the ceremony, she would be undergoing a launch readiness review for the Joint Polar Satellite System launch, which was initially scheduled to launch just three days later.

“One of the wonderful things about Purdue is that there were so many different co-op experiences, we got to knowledge-share and learn about different parts of the industry, different kinds of career options in aerospace,” Burke said in her acceptance speech. “It’s really important to keep a dialogue between professionals and students so the students can get on the best path for them, and as an industry, we get great people.”

Burke has also regularly held panels and dialogue sessions with high school students, encouraging them to pursue a career in aerospace. Burke was featured in The Washington Post’s “workday” series earlier in 2022.

Mwara is also a NASA employee, based out of Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. His experience at NASA started in their Pathways internship and co-op program, where he worked on development and testing of a water transfer system.

He has worked at NASA JSC full-time for nearly 9 years, in addition to his co-op experience. He is currently a project manager and fuel cell systems team lead. His team is responsible for advanced fuel cell/electrolysis projects and technology development. He attended the ceremony through a video call.

“I thank God, my family, and OPP for helping me achieve what I did,” Mwara said, “and AAE for giving me the skills to be successful in my career.”

Mark Lundstrom, Interim Dean for the College of Engineering and the Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said, “This program is one of the highlights of Purdue’s undergraduate program.”

Emphasizing the office’s 60-year dedication to experiential learning, Luna Lu, the director of OPP, said their office has helped rank Purdue’s undergraduate internship and co-op programs 7th in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. Purdue is the only Big 10 school ranked in the top 10 by that metric.


Publish date: December 21, 2022