Grad Students Honored for Rocketry Advances

Two graduate students in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics were named among this year’s winners of the Aviation Week Network’s awards program recognizing STEM degree candidates who have excelled in research projects, academic performance and civic contributions.

Aaron Blacker and Alexis Harroun, two second-year master’s degree students in aeronautical and astronautical engineering (AAE) in Purdue University’s College of Engineering, were among the recipients at Aviation Week’s 62nd Annual Laureates Awards event at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, on March 14, 2019.

The awards program, called “Tomorrow’s Technology Leaders: The 20 Twenties,” is conducted in collaboration with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). This year’s 20 recipients from science, technology, engineering and math disciplines at outstanding universities across the United States, included a third Purdue student, CoE undergraduate Adam Patel.

“This year’s 20 Twenties winners reflect the passion, ingenuity and remarkable talent found within the aerospace community,” said Daniel Dumbacher, AIAA executive director. “As they make important contributions to their fields of study, they are also working to make the world a better place.” Dumbacher is an adjunct professor in Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Aaron Blacker conducts research with Prof. William Anderson to develop non-visual indicators of flame position in rocket engines with the goal of improving design and performance in orbit-class engines. Anderson’s team studies lifted flames in a traverse-unstable rocket engine combustor.
Alexis Harroun’s research with Prof. Stephen Heister aims to design aerospike nozzles to improve the performance of rotating detonation engines—a promising alternative technology for rocket propulsion.

“Prominent universities nominated their top students for the prestigious 20 Twenties program, which was established in 2013 to recognize and cultivate the next generation of aerospace and defense leaders,” said Greg Hamilton, president of Aviation Week Network. “The future of the industry depends on these rising stars whose academic talents, high-value research and civic service, as well as their creativity and innovation, are sure to change the face of the industry.”

Aviation Week Network, a division of Informa — the largest multimedia information and services provider for the global aviation, aerospace and defense industries — said in its press release that the annual “20 Twenties” awards are a win-win activity for students and faculty in academia as well as organizations’ managers of technology-hiring.

Author: William Schmitt