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Aerospace engineering senior named Huntsville AIAA Undergraduate of the Year

By Drew Daws

Published: Nov 7, 2019 12:50:00 PM

Kelly Burnham Kelly Burnham

Kelly Burnham, a senior in aerospace engineering, was recently named the Undergraduate Student of the Year by the Greater Huntsville Section of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). She is the first winner from Auburn University. 

This award serves to honor an undergraduate student section member in recognition of notable technical accomplishments, active engineering research, outstanding service to the AIAA student section or active STEM outreach in the local community. 

“Kelly is an outstanding student and well-deserving of this stature,” said Norman Speakman, lecturer in aerospace engineering. “Fellow faculty in the aerospace engineering department have a high opinion of Kelly and expect that she will excel in her professional career.” 

Burnham interned at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to research iodine-based electrical propulsion systems and served as a 2018-19 undergraduate research fellow under Joe Majdalani, the Hugh and Loeda Francis Chair of Excellence in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, to model internal rocket engine flowfields.

She is presently being considered for a 20 Twenties award from the AIAA Foundation.

She also served as the student associate editor for the section’s newsletter, “Telemetry,” before later taking over as the lead editor for a year. She is a two-time Alabama Space Grant scholar and a co-founder of Auburn’s Women in Aviation International Chapter. She is slated to graduate fall 2019 with a University Honors Scholar distinction, the highest in the Honors College.

Media Contact: Austin Phillips,, 334-844-2444

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