College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Seven AerE grads receive department honors

Department of Aersospace Engineering senior honorees on stage with chair Alric Rothmayer
Department of Aersospace Engineering senior honorees on stage with chair Alric Rothmayer
AerE’s spring 2023 senior honorees include (left to right): Gavin Leicht, John Edgren, James Burke, Andrew Grotenhuis, Hanna Stec and Andrew Thomas

Academic Excellence Awards

James Burke is a recipient of both the Academic Excellence and Overall Achievement Award. He was named Outstanding Senior in Aerospace Engineering by the College of Engineering in addition to receiving the department’s Overall Achievement Award. He was a double major in Aerospace Engineering and Mathematics and served as a peer mentor in Aerospace Engineering. He was involved in the department’s Make To Innovate (M:2:I) program as served as controls lead of M:2:I’s STELLAR team, devoted to the development of Iowa State’s first non-combustion model of a liquid rocket cycle. He served as the Friley Hall Knapp treasurer and took part in many student activities, including Juggling & Unicycle Club, Cardinal Swing Society, Martial Arts Club, Critical Thinkers, Freeskate Club, Mariachi Los Amigos and Math Club. After graduation he will pursue opportunities in propulsion engineering.

John Edgren has gained leadership experience in his time with AerE as part of the OpenUAS (Unpiloted Aircraft System) research team for seven semesters in the roles of design team lead, overall team lead, flight test lead/pilot and also served as safety officer of Ames Flyers, the Iowa State University Aviation Club. His post-graduation plans include involvement with classic aviation and time as a flight instructor to build hours toward a goal of becoming a commercial pilot.

Gavin Leicht was a co-lead for the Aerospace Engineering senior design project and was also team leader for the project’s controls development. He was employed in a co-op program with Collins Aerospace in flight controls and testing. He has also worked with John Deere as a part-time student engineer in systems modeling and simulation and in training new college student hires for part time work. His minor is in computer science. He will be employed by Boeing in St. Louis, MO as an operations, analysis and simulations engineer.

Overall Achievement Awards

James Burke (see Academic Excellence Awards, above)

Andrew Grotenhuis is a double major in Aerospace Engineering and Spanish LCP (Languages for Cultures and Professions) and was part of a study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain though the Council on International Educational Exchange. He also worked as a project engineer with a civil engineering firm in Barcelona. He was a member of Iowa State’s Phi Beta Kappa honor society for top-achieving juniors and seniors involved with Liberal Arts & Sciences and was propulsion team lead for the AeroPac senior design team.

Hanna Stec was the recipient of a 2022 Brooke Owens Fellowship, which recognizes exceptional undergraduate women and other gender minorities from around the nation with space and aviation internships. She served as an undergraduate research team member in the Laboratory for Temporal Logic managed by Associate Professor and Building a World of Difference Faculty Fellow Dr. Kristin-Yvonne Rozier. She worked as an intern at Iridium (a global satellite communications company) and Collins Aerospace. Hanna was president of the Iowa State Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers; an honors ambassador and first-year honors program leader with the Iowa State University Honors Program; a community leader with the WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering) Iowa State chapter and was a keynote speaker with the WiSE Go Further Conference in 2023. She was also a member of the Space Generation Advisory Council, a global network of students and young professionals. After graduation she will be employed by The Boeing Company as a spacecraft operations engineer.

Andrew Thomas is a double major in Aerospace Engineering and Physics. He was involved in the Cyclone Rocketry student organization for three years and was high-powered rocketry chair. He completed an internship with Textron Aviation and will step into a job with Textron as an aerodynamics engineer following graduation.