AIAA Announces 2024 Regional Student Conference Winners Written 7 May 2024



2024 AIAA Regional Student Conference winners. | Credit: AIAA–©

May 7, 2024 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is pleased to announce the winners of six of the 2024 Regional Student Conferences. Additionally, the papers presented at the regional student conferences will be published by AIAA and available on Aerospace Research Center (ARC) later this year.

“We are thrilled to interact with so many of our student members during the AIAA Regional Student Conferences. University students gain practical experience presenting and publishing their research findings, receiving valuable feedback from professionals in the aerospace community,” said AIAA CEO Dan Dumbacher. “We look forward to seeing these students shape the future of aerospace!”

AIAA holds conferences in each region for university student members at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The student conferences are a way for students to present their research in person. They are judged on technical content and presentation skills by AIAA members working in the aerospace industry. Lockheed Martin was the generous sponsor of these conferences, in addition to many other regional-level sponsors.

More than 260 papers were presented by university and high school students across six regions, with over 900 students and professionals in attendance.

The first-place university student winners in each undergraduate, graduate, and team categories (listed below) are invited to attend and present their papers at the AIAA International Student Conference held in conjunction with the 2025 AIAA SciTech Forum, 6-10 January, Orlando, Florida.

Region I Winners
Undergraduate Category

  • 1st Place – “Wind Tunnel Testing of High Advance-Ratio Compound Helicopter Designs,” Howard Zheng, University of Maryland College Park (College Park, Md.)
  • 2nd Place – “Experimental Investigation of the Bell X-1’s Vertical Stabilizer Using Heated Flos to Replicate Supersonic Flight Conditions In A Subsonic Wind Tunnel,” Annemarie Bernardi and Craig Merrett, Clarkson University (Potsdam, N.Y.)
  • 3rd Place – “The Evaluation of Various Controller Architectures for an Air Brake on a High-Powered Model Rocket,” Sophie Jack, University of Maryland College Park (College Park, Md.)

Team Category

  • 1st Place – “Design and Feasibility of a Polar-Orbiting Gravimetry CubeSat,” Liam Piper, Ellie Sherman, Jackson Neu, and Ethan Prigge, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, Mass.)
  • 2nd Place – “2024: A DEEP Space Odyssey,” Aubrey Monk, Felix May, Thomas Pfaffe, Josh Profeta, Jaylean Ureña, Rida Awais, Eli Jenkinson, and Javid Bayandor, University at Buffalo (Buffalo, N.Y.)
  • 3rd Place – “CubeSat Test Platform for an Ultra-Lightweight Carbon Fiber Radiation System for High Performance Nuclear Electric Power and Propulsion Systems,” Liam Piper, Nathaniel Polus, Benjamin Peters, and Paige Rust, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, Mass.)

Region II Winners
Undergraduate Category

  • 1st Place – “Analytical and Computational Models of Rijke Tube Pressure Waveforms Using a Sigmoidal Temperature Distribution,” Emma Signor and Joseph Majdalani, Auburn University (Auburn, Ala.)
  • 2nd Place – “Experimental Study of Rotor-Sand Ground Interactions Utilizing Scaled NASA Dragonfly Model,” Darrell Nieves Lugo, Mario Vegnali, and Michael Kinzel, University of Central Florida (Orlando, Fla.)
  • 3rd Place – “Implementation of Alternative Pressure-Sensitive Paint for Future Ground Testing,” Meghan Smitherman, University of Tennessee Knoxville (Knoxville, Tenn.)

Masters Category

  • 1st Place – “Structural Health Monitoring for Launch Vehicle Reusability Using Fiber Bragg Grating Written Optical Fibers,” Thomas Colicci and Andrew Noonan, Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tenn.)
  • 2nd Place – “Designing and Manufacturing University of South Carolina’s First CubeSat Prototype,” Shruti Jadhav and Patrick Bailey, University of South Carolina (Columbia, S.C.)
  • 3rd Place – “Development of a Mechanical Stage Separation Mechanism for Two-Stage Sounding Rockets,” Griffin Jourda and Nishant Sood, Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)

Team Category

  • 1st Place – “Lessons Learned from the Launch of a Student-Built Jet-A/Liquid Oxygen Rocket,” Rithvik Nagarajan, Ethan Heyns, Braden Anderson, Michael Krause, Callum MacDonald, Varun Natarajan, Anthony Otlowski, and Tristan Terry, Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • 2nd Place – “Validation and Development of an Atmospheric Electroaerodynamic Propulsion System,” Gaige Sidaway, Britain Steele, Tyler Zeringue and Conner Evans, Mississippi State University (Starkville, Miss.)
  • 3rd Place – “Liquid Bipropellant Rocket Design,” Matthew House, Sherie LaPrade, Niyati Shah, Shelton Waddell, Michael Cowles, Nate Deforest, and Rodrigo Graca, Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne, Fla.)

Outstanding Branch Activity Category

  • 1st Place – “Volunteer Spirit and Outreach Through AIAA,” University of Tennessee Knoxville (Knoxville, Tenn.)
  • 2nd Place – “GT-AIAA: Diverse Perspectives and Increased Engagement,” Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • 3rd Place – “Inspiring Young Aerospace Professionals—The USC AIAA Process to Educate, Engage, and Retain,” University of South Carolina (Columbia, S.C.)

Freshman/Sophomore Open Topic Category

  • 1st Place – “Unlocking New Horizons: The Role of Kenya’s Broglio Space Center in the Commercial Space Era,” Kurt Gugelev-Shapiro, Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • 2nd Place – “Managing Safety Hazards In The Preliminary Design Phase of a Student-Lead Liquid Rocketry Program,” Michael Johns, University of Alabama Huntsville (Huntsville, Ala.)
  • 3rd Place – “Applications of Bio-Inspired UAVs for Enhanced Aerial Capabilities,” Haitish Gandhi, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, Fla.)

Poster Session Category

  • 1st Place – “Static Fire Test Stand for Jet Vanes Analysis,” Shalini Shailesh, Margaret Hwang, Catherine Gang, Alexander Swift, Ahmet Baturay Coksaygili, Kush Bandi, Owen Pollack, and Pritham Sathish, Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • 2nd Place – “Multiphysics Analysis of Carbon Composite Structural Batteries,” Atharva Gujrathi, Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • 3rd Place – “Design of a Launchable Remote-Controlled Rover and Protective Aeroshell,” Matthew Loewer, Colby Weeks, Lake Williams, Jackson Zazzaro, and Wout De Backer, University of South Carolina (Columbia, S.C.)

Region III Winners
Undergraduate Category

  • 1st Place – “Evaluating Performance of Simple Gas-on-Liquid Injector Designs in a Small Bipropellant Rocket Engine,” Stephen Hyde and Victor Argueta, Alma College (Alma, Mich.)
  • 2nd Place – “A Parallel Approach to Arbitrarily-High Antenna Pattern Visualizations,” Brady Phelps and Chad Mourning, Ohio University (Athens, Ohio)
  • 3rd Place – “Using the Drag Equation and Euler’s Method in Python to Predict Model Rocket Flight Trajectories,” Kulvir Chavda and Heather Arnett, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, Ill.)

Masters Category

  • 1st Place – “Analysis of the Circular Restricted N-Body Problem (CRNBP) in the Sun-Venus System,” Annika Gilliam and Robert Bettinger, Air Force Institute of Technology (Dayton, Ohio)
  • 2nd Place – “Optimizing Robotic Arm Capture of Tumbling Satellites with a Genetic Fuzzy System Approach,” Sathya Karthikeyan and Donghoon Kim, University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • 3rd Place – “Machine Learning Applications for Compression Strength After Low Velocity Impacted Carbon Fiber Composites,” Jason Mack and KT Tan, University of Akron (Akron, Ohio)

Team Category

  • 1st Place – “Design of a Low Barrier to Entry Reusable Rocket Engine and Test Stand,” Seth Arkwright, Matthew DiPofi, Jackson Godsey, Joshua Slivka, and Nicole Zimmerli, University of Akron (Akron, Ohio)
  • 2nd Place – “Design and Flight Vehicle Integration of a VaPak Liquid Engine Rocket,” Ana Clecia Alves Almeida, Reece Davis, and Jonathan Armbrust, University of Akron (Akron, Ohio)
  • 3rd Place – “United States Military Academy Army Rocketry and Engineering Sciences Team: Project Endurance,” Ellery Doyna, Elizabeth Joo, Allen Schneider, Arnav Pai, Timothy Ormsby, Ella Davis, Benjamin Johnson, Matthew Dupuis, Chase Adams, Aiden Ford, Tavis Cahanding, Pavel Shilenko, Michelle Hon, James Ye, Jacob Lombardo, Maxx Simeon, Matthew Dupuis, Juan Herrera Vasquez, Jake Moffat, Thomas Dickerson, Reagan Eastlick, and MAJ Robert Perezalemany, United States Military Academy (West Point, N.Y.)

Region IV Winners
Undergraduate Category

  • 1st Place – “Comparison of Analytical and Experimental Propeller Performance for Small Unmanned Aircraft Applications,” Noah Greeson, Dawson Manning, and Kurt Rouser, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, Okla.)
  • 2nd Place – “Design of Aerospike Nozzles for Rotating Detonation Engines Using Computational Fluid Dynamics and Machine Learning Techniques,” Philip Wilson, Khushi Piparava, and Liwei Zhang, University of Texas Arlington (Arlington, Texas)
  • 3rd Place – “Static Calibration of Platinum-based Pressure Sensitive Paint,” Neil Sawant and Christopher Combs, University of Texas at San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas)

Masters Category

  • 1st Place – “Influence of Freestream Reynolds Number on Unsteady Reflected-Shock Boundary-Layer Interaction in Shock Tube Experiments,” Adam Bicak and Hiroshi Ozawa, University of Oklahoma (Norman, Okla.)
  • 2nd Place – “Development of a Small-Scale, Modular Kerosene-Nitrous Oxide Liquid Rocket Ground Test Rig,” Cade Christison and Kurt Rouser, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, Okla.)
  • 3rd Place – “Convolutional Neural Network and Homogenization based Hybrid Approach for Lattice Structures,” Mohammed Abir Mahdi, Shafi Al Salman Romeo, and Wei Zhao, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, Okla.)

Team Category

  • 1st Place – “Design and Evaluation of a Thrust Reverser for Small Unmanned Aircraft Turbojets,” Dawson Manning, Peyton Stice, Austin Rouser, Logan Rock, Sam Hjelm, Brooks Benson, and Kurt Rouser, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, Okla.)
  • 2nd Place – “Applying Pose Estimation Techniques to Visualize Drone Trajectory in GPS-Denied Environments,” Dao Ton-Nu, Ryan Mok, Azeem Bhaiwala, Evan Sayer, Jose Rodriguez, and Adam Nokes, University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas)
  • 3rd Place – “Enhancing Altitude Control in Aerospace Systems,” Jackson Perrine, Alyssa Pina, Brian Davis, Daniel Bluedorn, Josh Berkman, Kaiden Kiracofe, Kelsey Sanchez, Jared Pulliam, Juancarlos Munoz, and Veronica Fujihara, New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, N.M.)

Region V Winners
Undergraduate Category

  • 1st place – “Experimental Investigation of the Impact of Propeller Configuration, Motor Noise, and Sound Reflection on Sound Pressure Level,” Olivia Hilburn and Charles Wisniewski, United States Air Force Academy (Air Force Academy, Colo.)
  • 2nd place – “Project The Belly: Long Range, Short Field, Unmanned Cargo Plane Design,” Robert Immekus, and Endrit Mehmetaj, Saint Louis University (St. Louis, Mo.)
  • 3rd place – “Preliminary Investigation of a High-Speed Formation Flight Concept,” Joseph Oczkewicz and Samuel Stanton, United State Air Force Academy (Air Force Academy, Colo.)

Masters Category

  • 1st place – “An Exploration of Supplemental Lift Device Integration and Applications in Multi-Rotor UAV’s,” Nehemiah Hofer and Mujahid Abdulrahim, University of Missouri Kansas City (Kansas City, Mo.)
  • 2nd place – “Development of an Externally-Mounted VHF Antenna Array for a Long-Endurance Medium-Scale UAS,” Matthew Turner, Samuel Ross, and Emily Arnold, University of Kansas (Lawrence, Kan.)

Team Category

  • 1st place – “Experimental Validation of CFD on Hypersonic Turbulent Boundary Layers,” Holtman Dunham, Alexander Kennedy, Sarah Treece, and Michael Semper, United States Air Force Academy (Air Force Academy, Colo.)
  • 2nd place – “OpenUAS: An Open-Source Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Testbed Solution Under Cost Constraints,” Varad Kulkarni, Allison Howard, Sydney Turner, Mukul Kulkarni, Nisha Raj, Eric Rasmussen, Mehmet Sefer, Karanvir Singh, and Kristin Rozier, Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa)
  • 3rd place – “Noise-Free Relative Attitude Determination System for Payload Extended from Satellite Body,” Aidan Luczkow, Tanner Brummond, Steven Liu, Mark Wilbourne, Kate Kosmicki, and Robert Marshall, University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, Colo.)

Region VI Winners
Undergraduate Category

  • 1st Place – “Apogee Altitude Control of Sounding Rockets with an Analytic Guidance Algorithm,” Kyle Woody and Conor Van Bibber, University California Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.)
  • 2nd Place – “Implementation of Rotating Test Stand for Supersonic Wind Tunnel,” Suren Sanai and Nandeesh Hiremath, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
  • 3rd Place – “Characterization of an Adamantane Thruster by a Langmuir Probe,” Cameron Coen and Autumn Zaretsky, University of Southern California (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Masters Category

  • 1st Place – “Performance Characteristics of a Low-Cost Self Contained Pressure Data Acquisition System,” Nathan Eller and Nandeesh Hiremath, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
  • 2nd Place – “Variable-Density Gyroid Infill for Increased Strength and Stiffness of 3D Printed Components,” Isaac Wegner and Matthew Campbell, Oregon State University (Corvallis, Ore.)
  • 3rd Place – “Establishing a Class 3B Laser Particle Imaging Velocimetry System at the Cal Poly Water Tunnel and Verifying Results with a Class 4 Laser System,” Jensen Lam and Nandeesh Hiremath, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)

Team Category

  • 1st Place – “Design of a Non-Flapping Seagull-Inspired Composite Morphing Drone,” Moise Brambila, Alex Rini, Jordan Eghdamzamiri, Hariet Yousefi, Joshua Herrera, Donovan Hanna, Caleb Black, Youssef Saad, Aramar Arias-Rodas, and Peter Bishay, California State University Northridge (Northridge, Calif.)
  • 2nd Place – “Electrically-Actuated Jumping Exoskeleton For Lunar Locomotion,” Kaitlyn Kumar, Yvonne Li, Manas Shah, and Nicolas Gomez, University of Southern California (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • 3rd Place – “Design and Aerodynamic Performance of a Morphing Aileron,” Christina Azzi, Anushka Tahiliani, and Sarah Nguyen, University of Southern California (Los Angeles, Calif.)

High School Category

  • 1st Place – “Eco-Adaptaive UAV for Sustainable Agriculture: Utilizing Deep Learning and Flora Thermography for Artificial Pollination,” Sahana Anamika, Sahithi Cherukuri, and Serena Gandhi, Santa Clara High School (Santa Clara, Calif.)
  • 2nd Place – “Enhancing Microdrone State Estimation: A Multi-Sensor Fusion Approach for Improved State Estimation in GPS Denied Environments,” Yogya Mehrotra, Dougherty Valley High School (San Ramon, Calif.)
  • 2nd Place – “Synthesis and Applications of Graphene Ink for Manufacturing in Space,” Nathan Kim, Hannah Rodda, and Melissa Kuebler, Calvary Chapel High School (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Additionally, AIAA supported the 20th  PEGASUS Student Conference, 26–27 April 2024, at the Universidad Politècnica de Catalunya in Terrassa, Spain. This annual conference gives graduate students the opportunity to present their technical work. The first-, second-, and third-place winners will receive cash prizes from AIAA and the first-place winner will compete at the International Student Conference alongside the Regional Student Conference winners. 

  • 1st Place –"Optimization Strategies for System Architecting Problems," Santiago Valencia IbanezTU Delft
  • 2nd Place – “Experimental study of flame/wall interaction for hydrogen/air mixtures," Malik Suryadeb, ENSMA
  • 3rd Place (tie) – "Joint analysis of Europa Clipper and JUICE missions to contain the Galilean moons’ ephemerides," Vittorio GargiuloSapienza - Università di Roma
  • 3rd Place (tie)"Impact of non-ideal fluid modeling on droplet vaporization for aerospace fuels," Edoardo FortiSapienza - Università di Roma

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

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