College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Sky high: Khushi Kapoor innovates tomorrow’s aviation technologies

Khushi Kapoor
Khushi Kapoor

For Khushi Kapoor, senior in aerospace engineering, innovating at Iowa State means reaching for new heights, as a leader in Make to Innovate CyLaunch rocket team, leading the design and build of a medevac quadcopter, and studying new fuel for aviation as a Student Innovation Center Innovation Fellow.

Innovate at Iowa State has been so many different things for me, so much more than a motto. It’s been learning, collaborating, developing, creating, inspiring, trying and failing, and trying again – all with a high-flying goal of improving aviation.

For example, as an Innovation Fellow, I got the chance to work on a project with nine teammates and an industry CEO to explore the future of aviation using hydrogen. I hadn’t taken a chemistry course since my freshman year, so I was definitely nervous at first to work on such a chemistry-dependent project.

But I didn’t need to worry, because a unique part of the Innovation Fellows Program is that it brings students together from all majors on campus. Combining the knowledge and skills of chemical, computer, industrial and aerospace engineering teammates, we conducted five months of market research into new technologies and companies about the next-generation of aviation.

Later on, after hearing a talk at the Student Innovation Center by an alum, a successful robotics-as-a-service entrepreneur, I was inspired to start another team project to create a compact electric medevac quadcopter that can get into densely populated areas more easily than a ground ambulance can. 

With support from an Iowa State Innovator in Residence – and a shoutout to the Student Innovation Center makerspaces for all the fabrication help – we 3D printed parts and soldered them together to complete a small-scale prototype.

I’ve also been on the leadership team of the Make to Innovate’s CyLaunch team, where we designed and built a 10-foot, high-speed rocket designed to NASA specifications. I really learned a lot of new hands-on engineering skills and a lot about leading on a big interdisciplinary team.

We took our rocket to a national competition in Alabama and came in second place for altitude accuracy!

In all of these great innovation experiences, Iowa State has offered me mentorship, support, industry connections, coaching, funding, leadership and more – and I can’t wait to get out into the work world soon and use what I’ve learned as a aerospace engineer.