College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Four graduate students in aerospace engineering enjoy teaching and research honors

Four TEX-REX award recipients with their faculty nominators

Four TEX-REX award recipients with their faculty nominators

Teaching and research expertise in the fall semester of 2023 has been recognized for four Department of Aerospace Engineering graduate students.

Andrew Fung (Teaching Excellence), Zhangming Zeng (Research Excellence), Youngro Lee (Teaching Excellence), and Harsha Sista (Research Excellence) have been honored by the Iowa State University Graduate College, based on recommendations from their respective major professors.

The awards are presented each fall and spring semester to graduate students who demonstrate excellence in teaching students or in scientific research.

TEX award recipient Andrew Fung with major professor Travis Grager
Andrew Fung (left) with major professor Travis Grager

Fung was nominated by associate teaching professor Travis Grager for his work as a teaching assistant over two semesters in the department’s senior design course. Grager reported a 31% increase in the number of students in the course and says without Fung’s support he would have been challenged in performing checks of the aircraft each team constructs to ensure that they were flight ready.

Grager also noted that he and Fung discussed ways to improve the course and decided adding autopilot functioning to the student-built unmanned craft would enhance the experience for participants. He said Fung voluntarily obtained a Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 license that allowed him to gain the needed experience in teaching autopilot functioning for the course.

TEX Award recipient Youngro Lee with major professor Dae-Young Lee
Youngro Lee (left) with major professor Dae-Young Lee

Lee’s major professor Dae-Young Lee says he was impressed with his diligence and management skills as a teaching assistant in several courses that require students to function as a team. He shared comments from students under Lee’s guidance that included: “Going through a lab procedure as he was explaining it was very helpful, as I was able to put the actions together with the words.” “He was always knowledgeable of the software we were using and helped with the extra parts of the project.” “The tutorials he provided were very useful, and help was provided whenever it was needed.”

Professor Lee also noted that he took over teaching of two courses after another faculty member left the department, and had a steep learning curve in using particular computational tools he was not familiar with. He credits Youngro Lee’s knowledge in the programs and the support he gave as instrumental in the courses’ success.

Zeng, nominated by associate professor Anupam Sharma, has been part of Sharma’s research group since 2018 and is set to defend his Ph.D. thesis on ultrasonic bat deterrents for wind turbines in the spring of 2024.

In making the nomination Sharma pointed to Zeng’s recognized research, which has seen publication in two journals, two conference papers, and an extensive technical report submitted to the Department of Energy (DoE); and noted that significant DoE funding for his lab has come from Zeng’s work.

Zhangming Zeng with major professor Anupam Sharma
Zhangming Zeng (left) with his major professor Anupam Sharma
REX Award recipient Harsha Sista with major professor Hui Hu
Harsha Sista (left) is shown with his major professor Hui Hu

Sista’s Research Excellence Award came after nomination by Martin C. Jischke Professor in Aerospace Engineering Hui Hu. Hu praised Sista’s research, which deals with wind turbine anti-icing strategies for more efficient operation of wind turbines in cold climates. He points out that Sista performed a comprehensive experimental study, designed test models, set up the test rigs carefully, and carried out experiments and detailed measurements independently. He adds that as of his nomination Sista had seen publication of four research papers, one book chapter and six conference papers.