Aerospace engineering awarded the Astronaut Scholarship Award

Texas A&M University aerospace engineering senior Emily Boster has been named a 2012 recipient of a $10,000 national award by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF).Photo of Emily Boster

This award is given to 28 of the brightest and most promising students across the country with interests in science or engineering.

Boster has been recognized based on her outstanding achievements. She has worked at the Astronomical Instrumentation Laboratory in Texas A&M’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, which has a larger role in developing and assembling tools such as VIRUS, an instrument which will be used by astronomers to understand dark energy, and components of the Giant Magellan Telescope, the world’s largest optical telescope. Recently, she has developed her own research project on flying vehicles and will beparticipating in a research exchange program this summer at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur.

Undergraduate research has played a major role in Boster’s educational and career path.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t become involved with research as a freshman at A&M. I switched to aerospace engineering only after being exposed to engineering and physics at TAMU’s Astronomical Instrumentation Lab,” she said.

Boster’s experience in undergraduate research through her work with Dr. Raktim Bhattacharya, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, has helped solidify her interest in designing flying vehicles.

The goal of her project is to design a new type of flying machine that is configurable to meet various heavy lifting applications for civilian purposes.

“The applications for such machines are limitless, ranging from disaster relief to parcel delivery to reconnaissance. We hope to develop the first prototype and we eventually hope to patent the design,” wrote Boster in her essay to the ASF.

She credits undergraduate research with opportunities she never thought were possible.

“My experiences in research have been the most important part of my education so far. They have helped me discover what I enjoy and what possibilities exist for my future,” Boster said.

The ASF scholarship opens many doors for its students, not only financially but also through its organization of industry-leading professionals and students. “Other than the financial aspect, I am looking forward to being part of a network of the unique and innovative individuals that are part of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. I know I will be inspired by the people who I will come in contact with through ASF,” said Boster

Boster plans to graduate in Fall 2013 and hopes to continue her studies by pursuing a graduate degree sometime in the future. While Boster has not solidified her educational plans yet, she knows she would like to gain industry experience. As for this fall, she plans to continue work in the Astronomical Instrumentation Laboratory and research on her autonomous vehicle. Her future goals include creating “greener” technology for the planet, traveling to other countries to unite efforts in aerospace research, and the development of programs across Texas, especially in South Texas, to ignite a passion in students for engineering and sciences.

The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to undergraduate STEM students based solely on merit. The chosen scholars exhibit motivation, imagination and exceptional performance in these fields. To be eligible, students must be U.S. citizens attending one of the institutions the foundation supports; entering their junior or senior year; majoring in engineering, natural or applied science, or mathematics; nominated for consideration by a professor at that institution; and exhibit extraordinary performance in his or her field. An on-campus committee analyzes the applicants and nominates the top two candidates to the ASF Scholarship Committee for final selection.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships for college students who exhibit motivation, imagination and exceptional performance in these fields. ASF has awarded nearly $3.5 million to deserving students nationwide. Today, more than 100 astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle and Space Station programs have joined in this effort. For more information, visit www.AstronautScholarship.org.