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What makes a 20 Twenty?

Aviation Week Network honors 20 students in their Twenties each year currently enrolled in a bachelor’s or master’s degree program in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM). The 20 Twenties program was established by Aviation Week Network in 2013 to recognize talented individuals who are on course to change the face of the aerospace and defense industry. Criteria is based on academic performance, public/community involvement and how they communicate the value of your individual research/design project.

Click HERE to learn the qualities that make a 20 Twenty


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Nominations will open February 1, 2022

20 Twenties Class of 2021

  • Julie Pham
    Julie Pham University of Texas at Austin

    Graduate Student, Aerospace Engineering | Class of 2022 | University of Texas at Austin | B.S.E. Mechanical Engineering | Class of 2020 | Arizona State University

    Pham is working to apply digital-twin technology for future aircraft platforms, which can be used to leverage real-time data for more informed predictions about a vehicle’s state. Through her graduate research, she is developing a novel sensing strategy for predictive digital twins for aerospace vehicles. She is working on a NASA University Leadership Initiative project to support development of scientific machine-learning methods to apply this strategy to hypersonic vehicles. Pham also completed three internships at Sandia National Laboratories.

    Her passion for increasing representation of women in aerospace has driven her to support students as a university tutor and teaching assistant. She is president of the Graduate Ladies of Aerospace and Mechanics organization at the University of Texas-Austin, for which she organizes speakers, events and mentorship opportunities.

  • Zachary Marshall
    Zachary Marshall Purdue University

    Dual B.S. Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering; Aerospace Financial Analysis | Class of 2021 | Purdue University

    Marshall is translating his aerospace research into real-world solutions to improve the delivery of needed community resources. His research into mitigating the frequency and severity of drone separation conflicts is aimed at safely integrating drones into the National Airspace System, which could help enable electrically powered aircraft to deliver medicine, food and cargo. Through his undergraduate coursework, he created a digital tool for nonprofit Meals on Wheels to optimize meal delivery routing and scheduling.

    Marshall has interned at American Airlines, NASA and Republic Airways. He also was president of Purdue’s chapter of AIAA, where he arranged community outreach events to promote youth interest in aerospace, including interactive seminars to teach children how to design, build and test flight vehicles.

  • Ryan Strelau
    Ryan Strelau Purdue University

    Graduate Student, Aerospace Engineering | Class of 2022 | Purdue University | B.S. Aerospace Engineering | Class of 2020 | Purdue University

    Strelau is applying his passion for extending humanity’s reach in space to development of advanced propulsion systems. He is researching laser-based ignition of rocket engines in space environments to develop better industry understanding of complex physics in vacuum conditions. His research has potential applications in both space travel and defense platforms, such as missiles, ramjets and scramjets.

    As a member of Purdue’s chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), he was technical lead for the Liquid Rocket Project, which created the first student-built, fully cryogenic, liquid oxygen-liquid methane rocket engine. He is involved in STEM initiatives to teach K-12 students about space and has tutored students whose primary language is not English at Purdue’s Writing Lab. Strelau has also interned at Aerojet Rocketdyne.

The Top 20

Universities around the world nominate their top students who are working to solve challenges within the industry.

Now in its 8th year, the prestigious awards program received a total of 553 nominations from exceptional students worldwide earning university STEM degrees and awarded 160 of them as 20 Twenties winners.

A total of 136 different colleges and universities around the world have participated in the program since 2013 by nominating students on the basis of their academic performance, broader civic contribution, and the value of their research or design project.

Most importantly, the program brings together technology hiring managers, students, and faculty worldwide to recognize what’s needed for business and academic growth and success. The students begin building a network comprised of the technical experts who have built the industry, the universities gain visibility for high-quality education provided to the students, and hiring managers gain knowledge about the best of the best in the next generation of aerospace talent.

The 2021 nomination program brought in a total of 61 total qualified nominations from 26 different universities representing five countries. Five new nominator schools participated in the program this year. 

The schools representing the 2020s class of 2021 include:

A focus on women in aerospace

In an industry still heavily dominated by men, the 2021 nomination pool was roughly an equal split with half of the nominees identifying as male (31), and half identifying as female (29).

According to Aviation Week Network’s editor Lindsay Bjerregaard, “Many of this year’s winners expressed passion for closing the gender gap in STEM and making education more accessible. Some have spent countless hours on outreach efforts to draw more women to aviation and aerospace. Others have focused on increasing racial and economic diversity within STEM, both through involvement in campus organizations and work in their communities.”

Nominations will open February 1, 2022

“One of the biggest problems in the sciences today is that we have a tendency to treat science as inaccessible to certain people. This not only shuts people out from the opportunity for support to pursue science, but also manifests into a culture conditioned to fear science as something that’s untrustworthy or incomprehensible.”

Valerie Bernstein

20 Twenties winner

Nominations will open February 1, 2022


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