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MABE Hosts AIAA Student Conference for First Time

(center) Sreya Kumpatla, Mason Roddy, Chad Bolding, and Jamison Murphree hold the awards they received at the AIAA Student Conference

The Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering (MABE) recently hosted the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Southeastern Regional Student Conference, marking the first time the conference has been held in Knoxville.

Approximately 180 students from almost every major aerospace program at universities spanning the Southeast from North Carolina to Louisiana attended the two-day conference.  Attendees had the opportunity to hear from industry-leading speakers including NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center Chief Engineer Katherine Van Hooser and former Lockheed Martin executive vice president of aeronautics Ralph Heath, both of whom are UT alumni, as well as AIAA Executive Director Dan Dumbacher. There were also tours offered to the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in Hardin Valley, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Cirrus Aerospace.

Many students presented their research at the conference and cash prizes were awarded for first, second, and third place winners in the categories of undergraduate, masters, undergraduate team, freshman/sophomore open topic competition, and outstanding student branch activity. Four MABE students won awards for their presentations.

UTSI graduate student Jamison Murphree  won first place in the master’s category and will compete in the AIAA International Student Conference at the 2024 AIAA SciTech Forum in January.

(Center) Sreya Kumpatla and Chad Bolding

Seniors Sreya Kumpatla and Chad Bolding took second place in the “Outstanding Branch Activity” category for their presentation on the professional development activities organized by their branch.

“This award means a lot to both Chad and me,” said Kumpatla. “We’ve both been in this organization for the entirety of our time at the university and we have been leading it for two years. This paper and presentation were a culmination of all the hard work we put in to ensure we leave our AIAA chapter a little bit better than when we started, and receiving the award was a confirmation that we accomplished what we set out to do.”

After graduating in May, Kumpatla will begin working as a systems engineer for the Mars Sample Return CCRS End Effector team at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Bolding will be taking part in the Northrop Grumman Pathways program, starting out in Colorado Springs, Colorado, while also commencing work on a remote master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University.

Mason Roddy, third from left, with the award he received at the AIAA Student Conference

Sophomore Mason Roddy won third place in the first year/sophomore open topic category with his presentation on ramjet and scramjet engines. Roddy.

“It was a great experience overall and I am grateful to show that my work was well received,” said Roddy. “Having the award on my resume will be very beneficial, but more than that, I found that I learned a lot from the paper writing and presenting process and I will enjoy having a small award in memory of the experience.”

Assistant Professor Damiano Baccarella, MABE department faculty advisor for the AIAA chapter, received a plaque as a memento for hosting the first AIAA student conference held in Knoxville.

AIAA holds regional student conferences each year to allow students the opportunity to present their research in a formal technical meeting, exchange ideas, and discuss programs with students from other universities in their region.