- M.S. in Aerospace Engineering ,May 2012
NASA Academy Research Project:
Integrated Inter-Modal Passenger Transportation System
Mr. Robert Plencner
Chief of MDAO Branch
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Academic and Work Experience
- Aerospace Systems Design Lab, Graduate Research Assistant Aug 2010–Present
- Conducting research on propeller blade design for open rotor engines to be integrated with future commercial aircraft
- Collaborated with GE on a project involving turban design for combined cycle power plants
- L-3 Communications, Transition Engineer Aug 2009–Aug 2010
- Assisted systems engineering in the process of design-to-production ready assemblies
- Assisted with metal fabrication and tooling design
- Antenna design improved lead time by 50% and reduced cost by $3,000 per part
- Prepared budget proposals for purchasing equipment
- Aerospace Systems Lab Solar Panel Engineer and Machinist, May 2008–May 2009
- Constructed the solar panels for the Akoya/Bandit nano-satellite
- Collaborated on the assembly and testing of the Bandit propulsion system
Memberships and Activities
- Sigma Chi Fraternity
- Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society
- Private pilot
Skills and Certifications
- Computer Programs and Languages: Microsoft Office, Python, MATLAB, Solid Edge (CAD)
- Language: Conversational Spanish
Hobbies and Interests
During the spring term of my sophomore year at Washington University in St. Louis, I took a class in spacecraft design. This class quickly became the highlight of my semester and convinced me to pursue a career in aerospace engineering.
In the fall of my junior year I spent a semester at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. After returning to the U.S., I learned that my advisor was leading a team of students to take part in a satellite construction competition sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory. I jumped at the opportunity, anxious to get my hands on a real spacecraft.
Assisting in the construction of a satellite was incredibly challenging and exciting. My responsibilities included building the solar panels and assisting with the design of the propulsion system. I found the solar panel assembly to be particularly fascinating. While I had no previous experience building solar panels, I have always been interested in renewable energy sources. This provided a great opportunity to educate myself on solar energy through hands-on experience. After working through the summer and fall semester of my senior year, I successfully completed the first solar panel for the Akoya satellite.
I had initially planned to use my work with the satellite as my senior capstone project; however, I came to the conclusion that I would be more satisfied if I found a new challenge for my senior project. While brainstorming with fellow students, the idea for an amphibious robot for Saturn’s moon Titan was proposed and I chose to see the idea through. I, along with another student, completed a conceptual design of the Saturn rover and a working model of the locomotion system. Our design, an amalgamation of the Phoenix Lander, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, and a robot called RHex designed by Boston Dynamics, was presented at the fall senior design showcase.
While working on my undergraduate degree at Washington University, I had the opportunity to take several graduate level courses. I found these to be more interesting due to the depth of study as well as for the professors’ high level of passion for a subject related to their research. Two graduate courses, propulsion and rotary wing systems, particularly fascinated me and eventually led to my decision to pursue a graduate degree in these areas.
Despite my desire to pursue a graduate degree, I knew that I wanted to spend some time outside of the academic world before making decisions about graduate school. After graduation, I began working at L-3 Communications, a military contracted aerospace communications company. My duties at L-3 included assisting systems engineers with the evolution of design-to-production ready assemblies as well as the preparation of budget proposals for purchasing equipment. I learned a great deal on the job, yet I came to realize that my interests lie in more challenging realms of engineering. In comparing my work at L-3 to my undergraduate research work, it became clear that my involvement as part of a small group with flexibility and creative control over a specific project is most satisfying to me. I realized that my passion is for small projects using new research in which I can truly invest myself.
In order to reach my goal of participating in cutting-edge research, I decided pursue a graduate degree in engineering as a graduate research assistant at the Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory (ASDL) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. At the moment, my primary area of research is with GE involving turbine design for a combined cycle power plant. In addition, I am working on the design and integration of an open rotor propulsion system for future commercial aircraft as part of my participation in the NASA Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) graduate student design challenge. Beginning in the fall 2011 semester, I will be focusing all of my research on the ERA project. My primary area of research will involve the geometry of counter-rotating blades and its result on engine performance and power management.
Professional and Educational Objective
- Pursuing a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering