Four aerospace engineering graduate students receive TEX-REX awards

Four Department of Aerospace Engineering graduate students were awarded the Teaching Excellence (TEX) and Research Excellence (REX) Awards from Iowa State University’s Graduate College for the summer 2019 semester. The awards are presented through the academic year to graduate students who demonstrate excellence in these areas.

Rajarshi Biswas and Mehdi Kamrani were nominated for REX Awards by Dr. Paul Durbin and Dr. Valery Levitas, respectively. The purpose of the REX award is to recognize graduate students for outstanding research accomplishments through their theses and dissertations.

REX awardee Rajarshi Biswas(left) and nominator Paul Durbin
REX awardee Rajarshi Biswas(left) and nominator Paul Durbin

Biswas is a Ph.D. candidate in Aerospace Engineering, who recently defended his thesis and graduated in the summer 2019 semester. Biswas worked as an intern at United Technologies Research Labs, and was supported by a grant from the Office of Naval Research. His work consists of the development of a new turbulence closure model called “Elliptic Blending lag κ – ω.” Biswas was described as “extremely self-motivated” by Durbin, and was recommended whole-heartedly for the award.

REX awardee Mehdi Kamrani(left) and nominator Valery Levitas
REX awardee Mehdi Kamrani (left) and nominator Valery Levitas

Kamrani is a Ph.D. candidate in Aerospace Engineering, who has worked under Levitas for more than three years. Levitas shared that Kamrani made significant contributions to the modeling of large deformation plasticity. In addition, he stated that Kamrani contributed to joint efforts with researches from University of California, Berkeley and the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institute of Science on the extraction of stress tensor components in diamond anvil cells.

Brian Kempa and Hamed Babaei were nominated for TEX Awards by Dr. Kristin Rozier and Dr. Joe Schaefer, respectively. The purpose of the TEX award is to recognize graduate students for excellence in teaching while at Iowa State.

TEX awardee Brian Kempa(left) and nominator Kristin Rozier
TEX awardee Brian Kempa(left) and nominator Kristin Rozier

Kempa served as a teaching assistant for AerE 361 (Computational Techniques for Aerospace Design) for three semesters. AerE 361 is a required course with a coding component in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, and according to Rozier teaching of this course a special challenge due to technically-related issues in the past. Kempa volunteered to assist with the course while Rozier was in the process of overhauling the material, because he felt he had a valuable perspective from having taken the course as an undergraduate. Rozier nominated Kempa for his dedication and passion to teaching, which she called “truly exceptional.”

Babaei served as a teaching assistant for EM 327, an Engineering Mechanics laboratory. He was nominated by AerE faculty member Joe Schaefer, who provided student evaluations of Babaei, and said that Babaei’s work was helpful and that he made the course run smoother for them. For the spring 2019 semester, Babaei received a 4.5 out of 5.0 average score on student evaluations. Schaefer shared that he has observed Babaei having an “extremely good” relationship with students, and he is always willing to help students when they encounter difficulties.

TEX awardee Hamed Babaei (center) with nominator Joe Schaefer (left) and Valery Levitas

Recipients of these awards receive a letter of commendation from ISU President Wendy Wintersteen, a certificate of achievement, and an honor cord to be worn during commencement ceremonies.

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