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2021 John and Jane Dunning Copper Fellows

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (5/19/2021) - The Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics is proud to announce Xiaoshan Lin, Niles Ribeiro, and Vinh Le Nguyen as the recipients of the 2021 John and Jane Dunning Copper Fellowship.

John and Jane Copper established the fellowship in order to recognize the University of Minnesota’s contribution to preparing John for a successful career. In 1957, John graduated with an Aeronautical Engineering degree from the University of Minnesota. He worked at McDonnell Douglas, a major American aerospace manufacturing corporation and defense contractor, for 35 years. The John and Jane Dunning Copper Fellowship is used to acknowledge students who possess an outstanding academic record and show promise after completing their WPE’s.

Xiaoshan Lin smiling

Xiaoshan Lin received his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering at Shanghai Jiao Tong University then joined the department in 2020 to pursue a Ph.D. in the Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics department. Lin works with Professor Derya Aksaray and focuses on research in control and planning for the multi-robot systems.

Lin’s goal is to become a researcher and hopes to continue to grow within the department. “The AEM department has excellent faculty and students, making it a great place for study and research. I have learned much from the courses and research projects during my first year here…It is my great honor to receive the John and Jane Dunning Copper Fellowship, and I want to thank John and Jane Copper who set up the fellowship. This is the first achievement I [have made] during my study in the AEM department and it motivates me to perform well in my future research.”


Niles Ribeiro

Niles Ribeiro received a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and works with Professor Graham Candler in the Computational Hypersonics Research Lab. Ribeiro’s research focus is in modeling turbulence within Hypersonic flows. Ribeiro has been interested in Aerospace Engineering since a young age but really became motivated during his undergraduate years. “…my interests in Computational Fluid Dynamics took off in my undergraduate studies, and motivated me to pursue more specialized courses and research. This trajectory brought me to UMN to research hypersonic flows using the cutting-edge computational tools developed here.”

Ribeiro’s goal is take training and knowledge from fundamental research and apply it to critical challenges facing NASA or the Department of Defense, such as modeling the reentry of spacecraft.

“I’d like to sincerely thank all of my professors for their instruction and adaptation to the remote-learning environment. Despite all of the challenges over the past year, they have always kept their courses engaging and were willing to spend additional time and effort outside of lectures to clarify some of the more difficult concepts. This year itself has contained several unique barriers I might never have imagined - moving halfway across the U.S. and into a new city, navigating a new school and program during a pandemic, and learning to adapt to eyelash-freezing winters. After experiencing several of these challenges and preparing for the Written Preliminary Exams, learning that I had been the recipient of this fellowship was extremely gratifying. In many ways, it was the culmination of a year’s work, and an affirmation of the trajectory that has brought me here.”


Vinh Le Nguyen has been in Minnesota his whole life including during his undergraduate studies. He received a Bachelors in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics from the University of Minnesota. He works with Professor Ryan Caverly and focuses his research in robotics. In the future, he would like to complete his PhD then pursue a career that is research based.

The department applauds these candidates and wishes them the best in their research and future endeavors.

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