AIAA LA-LV Universty Student Branches mini-Conference 2021

March 6 @ 10:00 am 3:30 pm PST

(March 6, 2021) (New! Breakout Session added to meet with individual speakers/panelists) (New Panelist Added!) AIAA LA-LV University S

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Saturday, March 6, 2021, 10 AM PST (Add to Calendar)

AIAA LA-LV University Student Branches mini-Conference 2021

Please join us and care about / support the rising stars of American aerospace! Also share your experiences with them. Students will present / talk about their projects and life in their pursuit of their career. The career panel and other sessions will offer professional inspirations and guidance as well. (Exhibitors are welcome.) (Please see below and more in the RSVP & Information Page for more information. Thanks!)


Tentative Agenda (All Time PST (Pacific Standard Time)

(Any adjustment, or brief introduction for exhibitors (if any), will be updated.

10:05 AM PST: Welcome

10:10 AM PST: Mr. J. Philip Barnes (Pelican Aero Group) Professional Session 1

10:55 AM PST: University Student Branches Group and Individual talks Session 1

11:55 AM PST: Dr. Nahum Melamed (Aerospace Corp.) Professional Session 2

12:25 PM PST: Mr. Bill Kelly (Aerojet-Rocketdyne Retired) Professional Session 3

12:55 PM PST: University Student Branches Group and Individual talks Session 2

01:30 PM PST: Career Panel Discussion and further Q&A

02:30 PM PST: Breakout meeting 1-1 or 1-few with the speakers/panelists

(Panelists: Prof. Claire Leon, Mr. J. Philip Barnes, Dr. Nahum Melamed, Mr. Bill Kelly, Sina Aboutorabi) (More TBD)

03:30 PM PST: Adjourn (and networking if preferred)

Aircraft Energy Gain From an Atmosphere in Motion

What does a regenerative-electric aircraft have in common with the wandering albatross? Join J. Philip Barnes, Senior Technical Fellow of Pelican Aero Group and 40-year veteran of air-vehicle and subsystems performance analysis at Northrop Grumman, for technical explanations and simulations showing how both extract energy from vertical or horizontal winds to augment or sustain continuous flight expending almost no energy.


Mr. J. Philip Barnes

Senior Technical Fellow, Pelican Aero Group

With an MSAE from Cal Poly Pomona and BSME from the University of Arizona, Phil has authored AIAA, SAE, AAS, and ASME papers on diverse topics including electric flight, aerodynamics, propellers, and the mechanics of gears, Keplerian orbits, and dynamic-soaring flight. Recently named Cal Poly Aero Engineering Alum of the Year, where he presented Learning From the Birds to graduates, families, and faculty, Phil has given several invited, travel-paid lectures at universities including USC, OSU, UIUC, and Univ. of Dayton. Phil frequently mentors engineering students with their capstone projects, and the fruits of such collaboration often appear in his technical papers and presentations.

Introduction and NEOs Deflection App brief demo


Dr. Nahum Melamed

AIAA Distinguished Lecturer

Project Leader

The Aerospace Corporation

Dr. Nahum Melamed is a project leader at The Aerospace Corporation since 2003. He received BS and MS in Aerospace Engineering from the Technion, Israel, and PhD in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech. His expertise include Orbital Mechanics and Optimal Guidance. His key activities include Planetary Defense from Near Earth Objects, Space Debris Mitigation and Flight SW Validation.

He leads a collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) developing a physics based web NEO Deflection App, or NDA, to design NEO deflection missions and gain insights on the challenges involved. This includes descriptions and tutorials that are necessary to interpret the data, supports planetary defense conferences, workshops and exercises, and is available online Dr. Melamed serves on planetary defense conferences and planetary defense exercises organizing committees, gives talks at these venues, and instructs a planetary defense class at Aerospace.

Resumes and Interviews In Aerospace

Mr. Bill Kelly

Aerojet-Rocketdyne Retired

Bill Kelly is a Senior Member of AIAA recently retired from the Aerojet Rocketdyne Corporation after 19 years of service plus 26 more years at other aerospace (Marquardt, Vacco Industries, etc.) and power industry (Babcock and Wilcox) companies . He was recently elected Treasurer of the Los Angeles-Las Vegas Section of AIAA. His experience at Babcock and Wilcox includes system design and start-up testing of large steam boilers and nuclear reactors (Three Mile Island, etc.). His experience at Marquardt includes small rocket engine and ramjet testing (NASP, etc.) and naval weapons systems development. His experience at Aerojet Rocketdyne includes large rocket engine system engineering, assembly and testing (RS-84, J-2X, RS-25, etc.) and system engineering for the MMRTG (Multi Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator). He holds a BSME from New York University, a MSNE from the University of Virginia and a post-graduate certificate in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from UCLA.lks at these venues, and instructs a planetary defense class at Aerospace.



Experienced electrical engineer, communications engineer, and astronautical engineer with a demonstrated 12 years history of working, teaching, and learning in the interdisciplinary areas of electrical engineering, communication systems, telecommunications, and aerospace engineering. Skilled in astronautics, spacecraft systems, deep space communications coding, digital space communications, algebraic coding, satellite communications, wireless communications, mobile communications, radar signal processing, RF systems, antenna, and microwave engineering. Sina has been part-time teaching faculty at CSUN Department of Electrical Engineering.


Dr. Claire Leon started her career at Hughes, Space and Communications Group in 1979. She gained experience across the company, through positions of increasing responsibility in Systems Engineering and Program Management.

She was promoted to Vice President of Navigation and Communications Systems within Boeing, in 2008, responsible for the AF satellite programs, as well as a number of classified programs. She transitioned to VP of National programs later in 2008, where she led the program turn around for a critical ACAT I program on the customer Contractor Responsibility Watch List (CRWL) that became a high performing program, delivered outstanding operational capability. She also transitioned the National Space and Communications Programs (NSCP) from a cost-plus to fixed price in response to customer affordability concerns. She retired from Boeing, in 2013, as the Vice President of National Programs.

Dr. Leon became a member of the Senior Executive Service in the Air Force, as the Director of the Launch Enterprise Directorate, at the LA Air Force Base, California, in 2014. She was responsible buying and launching rockets for the DoD, as well as leading the transition to the next generation of launch systems.

She is currently running the Graduate Program in Systems Engineering at Loyola Marymount University, as well as consulting for SAIC and Inside Out Learning.

Her education background includes: Ph.D. Executive Management, Drucker School of Business, CGU, Claremont, Ca, 2010, Masters of Business Administration, UCLA, Los Angeles, Ca, 1995, Masters of Management, University of Redlands, Redlands, Ca, 1986, BS, Mechanical Engineering, George Washington University, Washington D.C., 1979

Description of Dr. Claire Leon’s Consulting Services

Perform management consulting for Inside Out Learning, and SAIC, and possibly additional technical management companies. Tasks include executive presentation support, coaching, strategic planning, feedback on management approach for resolving challenging problems, as well as support to independent program review teams.

*AIAA California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Branch

The CSULB student branch creates networking events, invites guest speakers to their campus, promotes aerospace engineering to the younger generation, and has 3 exciting projects (Beach Launch Team, Design, Build, Fly, and Long Beach Rocketry) for their members to take part in.

*AIAA University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Branch

AIAA at UCLA is a professional organization that connects students, industry representatives, and academics dedicated to the advancement of aeronautics and astronautics. Throughout the school year, our chapter collaborates with various aerospace companies to provide events that facilitate networking and promote professional development skills for our members. In addition to these opportunities, the backbone of our organization are the three student projects: Design/Build/Fly (DBF), the Rocket Project at UCLA (URP), and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). These projects expand the educational experience of AIAA members, allowing them to apply the concepts they learn in the classroom to real engineering missions, and problems.

*AIAA University of Southern California (USC) Branch

At the University of Southern California, AIAA serves as an interface between students and the professional aerospace community by hosting lectures, industry networking events, and career information sessions. Furthermore, our branch helps students learn about aerospace research underway at USC campus and supports submission to AIAA design competitions like this year’s Hybrid-Electric General Aviation Aircraft (HEGAA) competition.

*AIAA University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Branch

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas student branch serves the purpose of facilitating the implementation of aerospace related projects and research at UNLV and promoting the importance of aerospace among the student body. Students participate in radio controlled airplane and rocketry projects and competitions such as CanSat and 3D Printed Aircraft Competition, supplementing their education with hands-on experience. UNLV AIAA also participates in local, regional, and national events and conferences that allow students to meet and network with other students, industry professionals, and aerospace companies.

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AIAA LA-LV Education Chair

(Tentatively supported by the STEAM K-12 Chair Khushbu Patel) []

AIAA LA-LV Events Program Chair


[AIAA Los Angeles – Las Vegas (Professional) Section] | []



March 6
10:00 am – 3:30 pm PST
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AIAA Los Angeles-Las Vegas Section

(September 19) University Cubesat Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic with Prof. Scott Palo and his students | AeroDesign Team of USC: The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners | Nuclear thermal propulsion rocket (NTPR) @ UNLV

September 19, 2020 @ 10:00 am 2:00 pm PDT

(September 19) University Cubesat Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic with Prof. Scott Palo and his students | AeroDesign Team of USC: The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners | Nuclear thermal propulsion rocket (NTPR) @ UNLV

Sep 19, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 2 PM (PT)

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(Captions for the pictures above:)
Left: Students at the University of Colorado in Boulder put together this “flatsat” simulator of their MAXWELL cubesat, which they connect to remotely to test software from home. (Credit: University of Colorado Boulder; Aerospace America) | Right: AeroDesign Team of USC: The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners. | Bottom: Artist’s impression of bimodal NTR engines on a Mars Transfer Vehicle (MTV). Cold launched, it would be assembled in-orbit by a number of Block 2 SLS payload lifts. The Orion spacecraft is docked on the left. (Wikipedia)


AIAA LA LV 9/19 e-Town Hall Meeting

Saturday, September 19, 2020, 10 AM

(Add to Calendar)


University Cubesat Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Prof. Scott Palo

Victor Charles Schelke Endowed Professor

Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences

University of Colorado Boulder, and

Chair, AIAA Small Satellite Technical Committee (SmSTC)


the students:

MAXWELL – Matt Zola

CU-E3 (To be launched on Artemis-1) – Brodie Wallace

CIRBE – Evan Bauch

AeroDesign Team of USC:
The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners
AeroDesign Team of USC
Randi Arteaga, Program Manager,
Chair, AIAA USC Student Branch
Drew Hudock, Chief Engineer
Colton Bullard, Payloads Lead
Erin Pugh, Landing Gear Lead
Diana Salcedo-Pierce, Structures Lead
Jack Ahrens, Aerodynamics, Stability & Control Lead
Jackson Markow, Performance Lead
Mikell Myers, Propulsion Lead
(Please click “RSVP & Information” to see bio of those ADT members)

The Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Rocket (NTPR)
Valerie Lawdensky
PhD candidate in nuclear and thermal engineering at UNLV
Graduate Research Assistant at Los Alamos National Laboratory
(Please click “RSVP & Information” to see bio of those ADT members)

Agenda (Tentative) (All Time PDT)

10:05 AM: (Welcome) Dr. Chandrashekhar Sonwane
10:10 AM: (Part I) Prof. Scott Palo, Matt Zola, Brodie Wallace, and Evan Bauch
12:30 PM: (Part II) AeroDesign Team of USC: The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners
01:15 PM: (Part III) Nuclear thermal propulsion rocket (NTPR): Valerie Lawdensky (5th-year PhD student at UNLV)
02:00 PM: Adjourn


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What? (Part I) University Cubesat Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Aerospace America reported (8 May, 2020) that in Amanda’s Miller’s telephone interview with University of Colorado, Boulder aerospace and engineering sciences Professor Scott Palo – who chairs AIAA’s Small Satellite Technical Committee – the two discussed his work with University of Colorado graduate students on the development of the MAXWELL cubesat. In his basement, Palo “has hooked up a battery power supply, soldering tools and an oscilloscope – all liberated from his lab” before the COVID-19 pandemic forced him and his students to leave campus. The “idea was to ‘have the tools of the testing’ ready to continue trying out cubesat components and software either at home or by connecting to the lab remotely, he says.” Anticipating the campus closure, “a student team worked in the lab for three days to set up a flatsat, or simulated, version of their upcoming U.S. Air Force-funded MAXWELL cubesat, short for Multiple Access X-band Wave Experiment Located in LEO. From their homes, Palo and his students access, via the internet, this networked array of electronics that are just like the ones planned for MAXWELL, which is now in the testing phase.” This way, “they can continue to upload software for testing.” MAXWELL is “one of 18 small satellites selected by NASA to be deployed as secondary rocket payloads from 2021 to 2023.” MAXWELL “will demonstrate a radio design for smallsats.”

Who? (Part I) Prof. Scott Palo, and the students:
Matt Zola, Brodie Wallace, Evan Bauch

Scott Palo is the Charles Victor Schelke Endowed Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has 20 years of experience in higher education, is the director of the Space Technology Integration Lab, co-director of the Active Remote Sensing Lab and former Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU. Since 2001 he has been involved with the design, construction and operation of numerous small satellites including DANDE, CSSWE, MinXSS-1&2 and QB50-Challenger all which have flown. He is leading the development of CU-E3, Maxwell and SWARM-EX cubesats. CU-E3 will launch on the SLS with Artemis-1 and will be one of the first Deep Space CubeSats to be flown.

Dr. Palo is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA, Senior Member of the IEEE and has won numerous awards including an NSF Early Career Award, AIAA Rocky Mountain Region Educator of the year and the United States Antarctic Service medal.

In 2018 Dr. Palo chose to follow his entrepreneurial spirit and co-founded Blue Cubed LLC, a new space startup company focused on the development of next generation communications technology to support the rapidly expanding small satellite market. Dr. Palo currently splits his time between Blue Cubed and CU where he continues to teach both undergraduate and graduate students in the skills required to design, build, test and operate small satellites and other emerging aerospace technologies.

the students:
MAXWELL – Matt Zola
CU-E3 (To be launched on Artemis-1) – Brodie Wallace
CIRBE – Evan Bauch


What? (Part II) AeroDesign Team of USC: (ADT)
The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners
The AeroDesign Team of USC is the university’s official entrant into the annual AIAA Design/Build/Fly competition. The USC AeroDesign Team placed 1st in the competition, and had the highest scoring report. Join us as the student-run team provides a deep dive into the efforts behind their winning plane and takes us through their eight-month-long process of designing, building, flying, and winning.

Who? (Part II) AeroDesign Team of USC: (ADT)
The 2019-2020 AIAA DBF 1st Place Winners
(Please click “RSVP & Information” to see bio of those ADT members)

Randi Arteaga
Program Manager

Drew Hudock
Chief Engineer

Colton Bullard
Payloads Lead

Erin Pugh
Landing Gear Lead

Diana Salcedo-Pierce Structures Lead

Jack Ahrens
Aerodynamics, Stability & Control Lead

Jackson Markow
Performance Lead

Mikell Myers
Propulsion Lead


What? (Part III) The Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Rocket (NTPR)
Space transportation systems have been advancing to meet the goals of long-distance space travel and long-term space habitation since the beginning of the space race, and one contender from the 1950s still has a lot to offer with some new designs and analyses employed to solve old technical challenges and new mission needs. The nuclear thermal propulsion rocket (NTPR) can double the specific impulse of modern chemical rockets and be designed to generate both electricity and propulsion. This modular reactor functions by introducing a separate but simultaneous thermodynamic loop to the existing high temperature hydrogen loop. Using heat pipes within the structural tie-tube elements, extra heat is transferred from the reactor to a power conversion system. This functionality is dependent on reducing the mass loss in fuel elements due to chemical and mechanical interactions with the high-temperature hydrogen that was observed in the NTPR program’s experiments, NERVA, which tested both niobium carbide and zirconium carbide coatings before its abrupt cancellation. Test samples with other coatings were fabricated but never tested, warranting this investigation into optimal coatings based on minimal hydrogen diffusion, high thermal conductivity, thermal expansion coefficient which matches that of the fuel elements, and no impedance to the surrounding nuclear reactions. This paper presents a model of an NTPR reactor in the Monte Carlo N-Particle Transport Code (MCNP). The fuel coatings and composition are varied, first to compare against the experimental NERVA results, and then the newer coatings and compositions are analyzed. The goal of this modeling is to determine the axial and radial distributions of neutron flux throughout the reactor core and the energy deposition per unit mass. The energy deposition is used in determining the temperature distribution throughout the reactor core, which can affect the degradation of the fuel and therefore be adjusted to reduce such fuel losses. In addition, the hydrogen propellant content within the fuel elements of the MCNP model is reduced and the control drums rotated for compensation in order to demonstrate bimodality of the reactor from complete propulsion through complete electricity generation. A DOE-developed heat pipe analysis code is used to evaluate the electrical power potential of the NTPR and the functionality of the reactor with reduced moderation and surface area exposed to coolant.

Who? (Part III) Valerie Lawdensky
Valerie Lawdensky is a fifth-year PhD student at UNLV. She started life as an aspiring singer and actress, but math got in the way. She began college courses part-time at 15 in order to take calculus and full-time at 16 to study psychology, math, and music. After a bet with her dad, she took her first physics class at age 18 and ultimately declined the professor’s request to become a physicist, opting instead for a degree in mechanical engineering. She couldn’t give up math and psychology entirely, so turned them into minors. In putting the degree before the career, she hadn’t decided what to do as a graduated engineer, then realized that astronauts were often engineers and that turned into her driving force. Somehow six years of college wasn’t enough, so she then opted to continue on for a PhD in thermal engineering. Upon learning of the wonders of nuclear rockets, she made nuclear engineering her primary focus in order to become one of the few multiphysics doctors and a nuclear rocket scientist. The complexities of these amazing technologies have called her to working on component-level analysis tools for the time being, but her heart, mind, and future are with the development and use of advanced propulsion. 


Online on Zoom
(Zoom connection information will be provided in the confirmation email after registration.)
Saturday, September 19, 2020, 10 AM



AIAA Los Angeles-Las Vegas Section