Aerospace engineering students set another record-breaking performance at AIAA regional conference

Published: Apr 22, 2015 9:00:00 AM
Media Contact: Megan Burmester,, 334.844.2220


Award winners (from left to right): Joe Majdalani, Eldon Triggs, Orie Cecil, 
Timothy Marquardt, 
Viraja Khollam, AJ Pollard, Wil Roberts and Brian Thurow

Students in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Auburn University have set a remarkable new record by capturing an unprecedented five best paper awards at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Southeastern Regional Student Conference.

Wil Roberts and AJ Pollard, seniors in aerospace engineering, earned first place in the best undergraduate paper and best community outreach paper categories, respectively. These students were advised by professors Brian Thurow and Joe Majdalani from the Department of Aerospace Engineering.  In addition, aerospace engineering graduate students earned the top three prizes in the best graduate paper category (masters division): Orie Cecil (1st), Tim Marquardt (2nd) and Viraja Khollam (3rd).  

Roberts’ top placement in the undergraduate paper award designation marks the fourth time an Auburn student has won a best undergraduate paper in this highly competitive category, in a third year in a row performance!  The department has therefore set a new record for itself as no other university in the Southeast has managed to win the best undergraduate paper award more than once.  The Stan Powell plaque, given to the winner of this category, will be returning to Auburn for the fourth time with Wil Roberts’s name added to it.

Overall 22 aerospace engineering students represented Auburn at the southeastern regional competition, which was packed with excellent technical papers from Auburn, ERAU, FIT, Georgia Tech, MSU, NCSU, SPSU, Tuskegee, UA, UAH, UCF, UF, Memphis, South Alabama, and South Carolina.  This conference, the most heavily attended among seven AIAA regional conferences, included 205 students and 12 faculty members.

“Leading professionals in the aerospace profession and engineering institutions throughout the Southeast are noticing the outstanding quality of research produced by Auburn’s students and faculty,” said Majdalani, professor and chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering. “I am immensely proud of all of those who participated in this event, including those whose hard work and dedication have brought our department such tremendous recognition.”

By winning the top two prizes in the masters division, Cecil and Marquardt have managed to preserve the unbroken winning streak of professor Majdalani’s graduate students who, in the past six years, have entered the SEC competition with a total of 10 papers, and returned with 10-out-of-10 best paper awards.