AIAA Announces Winners of Prestigious Zarem Graduate Student Awards for Distinguished Achievement in Aeronautics and Astronautics Written 17 October 2022


October 17, 2022 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is pleased to announce the winners of the Zarem Graduate Student Award for Distinguished Achievement:

  • Rudy Al Ahmar, Auburn University, won the aeronautics award for his paper, “On the Kármán–Pohlhausen Momentum-Integral Approach: Extension to Flow Over a Cylinder with a Variable Pressure Gradient.”

  • Joseph Day, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, won the astronautics award for his paper, “Tip Shape, Height, and Thickness Influences on Nonlinear Acoustic Damping from Baffle Blades.” Day presented his research at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), 18–22 September 2022, Paris, France.

The winners will receive their awards at the 2023 AIAA SciTech Forum, National Harbor, Maryland, 23–27 January 2023. This award was established by AIAA Honorary Fellow Abe Zarem, founder and managing director of Frontier Associates, to annually recognize graduate students in aeronautics and astronautics who have demonstrated outstanding scholarship in their field.

Rudy Al Ahmar, Auburn University


Rudy Al Ahmar, Auburn University

Al Ahmar is a research and teaching assistant pursuing a graduate degree in Aerospace Engineering at Auburn University. He is a member of the Advanced Propulsion Research Lab working with Joseph Majdalani as his advisor. His current areas of research focus on external aerodynamics, specifically on the application of CFD and analytical models to investigate various flowfield configurations. Al Ahmar has recently competed in AIAA Region II Student Conference and received third place in the Masters division. He tremendously enjoys teaching and helping his fellow undergraduate students improve their skillsets in mathematics, CAD, and aerodynamics. Having already published two articles including a journal paper in the Physics of Fluids, he aspires toward a full-time academic career where he can pay-it-forward to next-generation engineers.

“I am truly honored to receive this recognition. The underlying research extends the theory of both Dr. Majdalani and the late Dr. Xuan who passed away in 2020,” Al Ahmar said. “This prestigious award will significantly bolster my ability to achieve my career-long objective of pursuing a faculty position in aerodynamics.”

Al Ahmar’s faculty advisor, Joseph Majdalani, Ph.D., serves as Professor and Francis Chair of Aerospace Engineering at Auburn University. He previously served the same department as the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council Endowed Professor and Department Chair (2013–2016) as well as the Jack D. Whitfield Professor and H. H. Arnold Chair of Excellence in Advanced Propulsion at the University of Tennessee (2003–2013). Dr. Majdalani is known for his work on acoustic instability theory and vortex-driven rocket engine technology encompassing solid, liquid and hybrid rocket applications. He is a Fellow of ASME, Past Chair of the AIAA Hybrid Rockets and Solid Rockets Technical Committees, Region II Deputy Director of Technical Activities, Director of Honors & Awards within the AIAA Greater Huntsville Section, AIAA Short Course Instructor, Editorial Board Member of Aerospace and the Physics of Fluids, as well as Associate Editor of the International Journal of Aerospace Engineering and the International Journal of Energetic Materials and Chemical Propulsion.

Joseph Day, University of Colorado Colorado Springs


Joseph Day, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Day is a masters student studying mechanical engineering, with an emphasis in thermal fluid sciences. He enjoys working on both experimental and simulation research to study and predict the nonlinear damping that exists in liquid rocket engines. Working on something that has real tangible applications, but is not understood well at all, is quite exciting for him. As he looks to his career, he doesn’t have many professional aspirations, but more so a desire to tackle exciting and fundamental problems that are just not understood.

“I think it is easy to get bogged down in research and the day-to-day monotony of figuring out how in the world to solve a problem, and forget that what you are doing is special and important. So this award reminds me that I am doing good work and encourages me to keep pushing toward the finish line,” Day said.

Day’s faculty advisor, Matt Quinlan, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University and his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. Before returning to graduate school, he worked as a diesel fuel system engineer for five years and is an inventor on four patents in this field. His work focuses on the theoretical, experimental, and numerical study of combustion dynamics and instabilities.

For more information on the Abe M. Zarem Graduate Awards for Distinguished Achievement, please contact Michael Lagana.

Media Contact: Rebecca B. Gray,, 804-397-5270 cell

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