News Release

Jacobs School Student Named FAA Outstanding Student of the Year

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Gabriela DiFrancisci, a Ph.D. student at the Jacobs School, has been named outstanding student of the year by the FAA.
Read more about her research here

San Diego, Calif., Nov. 30 -- A Ph.D. student at the University of California, San Diego, has been named one of two outstanding students of the year by the Federal Aviation Administration. Gabriela DeFrancisci works in the research group of Hyonny Kim, a professor in the Department of Structural Engineering at the Jacobs School. She be recognized Jan. 12, 2013 during an awards ceremony at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington, D.C., and receive a $1,000 award.  

Her main research area is the formation of wide-area blunt impact damage in composite structures. This is relevant to accidental contact between heavy ground service equipment and commercial aircraft with composite-fuselage structures.  Her dissertation is titled “High Energy, Wide Area, Blunt Impact on Composite Aircraft Structures,” which has very strong implications related to safety and detection of damage in the new generation of composite airframes. 

“This award is a fitting acknowledgement of Gabriela's dedication to these important transportation-safety focused efforts, and the significance of the contributions which her research has produced, and continues to produce, for the aviation safety community,” the FAA said in its award announcement.

DeFrancisci received her bachelor’s degree in 2008 from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo’s Department of Civil Engineering. She received her master’s degree at UC San Diego in 2010 and is currently completing her Ph.D. here as well. In 2008, she received the UC San Diego Structural Engineering Department Fellowship. She was a Transportation Research Board Fellowship Recipient on Public Sector Aviation Issues in 2009-10 and a California Space Grant Fellowship Recipient in 2010.

DeFrancisci conducts her multi-faceted research as part of the FAA Joint Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials and Structures, which is sponsored by the FAA Office of Aviation Research at the FAA Wm. J. Hughes Technical Center. UC San Diego is a member of this Center of Excellence. Her project involves interactions with various aspects of the aviation industry including the airframers, the airline operators and material suppliers, as well as FAA and EASA. 

Media Contacts

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering