Three Aerospace Engineering graduate students honored for research, teaching

Rigelesaiyin Ji, Ph.D. student in Aerospace Engineering, with his nominating professor, Dr. Liming Xiong. 

For the Fall 2020 semester, three graduate students in the Department of Aerospace Engineering have been honored with Teaching Excellence and (TEX) and Research Excellence (REX) Awards from Iowa State University’s Graduate College. The awards are presented to graduate students who demonstrate excellence in their scientific research or their performance in teaching.

Rigelesaiyin Ji and Mohammed Hashemi have received REX Awards and were nominated by Dr. Liming Xiong and Dr. Azadeh Sheidaei, respectively. The REX award recognizes graduate students for outstanding research accomplishments through their theses and dissertations.

Ji was the first Ph.D. student in Dr. Xiong’s research group, and since joining that group has authored and co-authored 11 journal publications and 14 national and international presentations. Dr. Xiong said, “His research has recently attracted the attention of the researchers at University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” and that Ji displays all the qualities of a talented researcher in the field of engineering mechanics. He recently successfully defended his dissertation and received his Ph.D. in December 2020.

Mohammed Hashemi with his nominating professor, Dr. Azadeh Sheidaei.

Hashemi began his Ph.D. under Dr. Sheidaei in 2018 and is working on a dissertation with the topic of “AI-Assisted Predictive Framework for Material Design.” Hashemi currently has a perfect GPA and Dr. Sheidaei said, “is consistently at the top of his classes with strong theoretical and mathematical ability.” He is the first author on multiple publications, and has presented his research at the Pan American Congress of Applied Mechanics and the Society of Engineering Science, among other research conferences.

Zachary Luppen has received the TEX Award and was nominated by both assistant professor and Black and Veatch Building a World of Difference in Engineering Faculty Fellow Kristin Yvonne Rozier and assistant teaching professor Matthew Nelson. TEX awards are given to recognize outstanding achievement by graduate students in teaching.

Zachary Luppen pictured with his nominators, assistant professor Matthew Nelson (left) and assistant professor and Black and Veatch Building a World of Difference in Engineering Faculty Fellow Kristin Yvonne Rozier.

Luppen is a Teaching Assistant in AERE 361: Computational Techniques for Aerospace Design. According to Rozier, “Zach has demonstrated a commitment to the students and development of the course materials that goes far beyond expectations.” Luppen made significant contributions and suggestions to existing class material, created new activities and contributed to make labs more exciting for students. Nelson said, “While Zach has contributed to the development of the course and assisted in the teaching of the course, he also spends countless hours with the students.” Luppen created materials for a lab allowing students to build a light sabre that still met course objectives. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 he was unable to carry out that particular lab. Many of the students he helped teach left feedback at the end of the semester expressing their appreciation for his dedication to the course.