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UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

Undergraduate students win Galactic Unite prize

San Diego, CA, November 6, 2018 -- Seven UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering students were selected to receive the inaugural Galactic Unite Gavin Jones Prize, which recognizes undergraduate students at UC San Diego studying science, technology, engineering or math with a desire to make an impact on the space industry. The winners each receive a $1,500 cash prize, plus a mentor from either Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit or The Spaceship Company. The scholars will have an opportunity to visit Virgin Galactic or Virgin Orbit’s facilities to visit with their mentor in-person and experience real-life applications of their engineering degrees.

The selected students have demonstrated technical prowess through internships and involvement in campus organizations, and as Galactic Unite Gavin Jones Prize recipients, they’re asked to strive for leadership roles within these organizations. They’re also required to participate in the Galactic Unite mentorship program and organize a STEM outreach event in their community, and are invited to participate in the 10th cohort of Gordon Scholars at the Gordon Engineering Leadership Center at UC San Diego.

Here are the students in the inaugural class of UC San Diego Gavin Jones Prize recipients:

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Evan Kay. Photos by Amanda Izaguirre- Lumm.

Evan Kay

Kay is a fourth year aerospace engineer, who has had internships at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, SpaceX and Additive Rocket Corporation. On campus, he’s the professional development chair of Academic Connections of Engineers, chief engineer for UC San Diego’s Rocket Propulsion Lab, and served as program coordinator for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He’s excited about building a rocket to get to the edge of space, and finds the vastness of space exciting since it means there are millennia of scientific discoveries still to make. Fun fact about Evan? He was a stunt double in Tropic Thunder. 

 

 

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Ross Libman

Ross Libman

Libman is a fourth year aerospace engineer who has worked as a power and propulsion manufacturing intern at Naval Air Systems Command.  He’s also served as president and lead propulsion subsystem engineer at the Rocket Propulsion Lab at UC San Diego, and worked to develop autonomous boats in Professor Mark Anderson’s lab. Libman is excited to be a leading force in what he thinks of as the new Space Age, which he hopes will be remembered by future generations as the propulsion device that helped mankind explore the final frontier.

 

 

 

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Riana Menezes

Riana Menezes

Riana is a fourth year structural engineer with a focus on aerospace structures. She’s the mechanical lead for the cube satellite club on campus, which builds affordable, small satellites for space research. She’s held a robotics research internship at Tennessee Tech University, built a solar-powered boat from scratch, and has a goal of going to space one day. Riana and her identical twin sister Tiana—also a scholarship recipient—are Pakistani immigrants who moved to the U.S. seven years ago. 

 

 

 

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Tiana Menezes

Tiana Menezes

Tiana is also a fourth year structural engineer focusing on aerospace structures, and is Riana’s identical twin sister. She’s involved with the CubeSat club, and through a job with CubeSat was able to obtain her HAM Radio license to be able to communicate with satellites, while working to establish an operational ground-station at UC San Diego. She also worked as a mechanical engineering student assistant for the California Department of General Services, to design and create internal systems for state buildings. Tiana wanted to pursue engineering because she enjoys solving problems and wanted to develop skills to be able to find creative solutions to tackle tangible challenges. She said developing the next generation of space exploration technology is the best way she could apply these skills.

 

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Jack Najarian

Jack Najarian

Najarian is a fourth year electrical engineer, and past president of UC San Diego’s chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS). He’s interned at SpaceFab and the Aerospace Corporation, and his dream is to make space more accessible to all. To make that happen, he spent the majority of his college career helping to create Colossus, a rocket engine test stand that makes it easier for student groups to test their rocket designs and creates the infrastructure needed to allow the next major technological leaps in space exploration.

 

 

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Surya Vohra

Surya Vohra

Vohra is a third year environmental engineer, and president of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. As part of SEDS, she is the chair of Space Vision, the only undergraduate-run space conference in the country, hosted by UC San Diego this year. Vohra has interned at Stellar Exploration, Additive Rocket Corporation and the UCLA Matrix Lab, and is involved with Space Generation Advisory Council, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Society of Women Engineers.

 

 

 

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Philby Wang

Philby Wang

Wang is a fourth year aerospace engineer who has been heavily involved with SEDS, having served as director of engineering, structures lead of the Vulcan-II rocket project, and a member of the structures team of the Colossus rocket engine test stand. Wang is also an undergraduate researcher in the Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab at UC San Diego, working to develop fluid-filled soft robots that can traverse uneven terrain. She’s interned at Swift Engineering, and said space exploration is important for the future development of humanity.

 

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