AEM holds its first Minnesota Graduate Aerospace Poster Symposium

This past spring brought a new opportunity for AEM graduate students to present their work at the inaugural Minnesota Graduate Aerospace Poster Symposium. Twenty-five posters were presented in AEM’s Gary J. Balas Atrium space on April 21st, showcasing the wide range of innovative research being done by individual students and student teams. Critical to the event’s success were AEM Professors Ellad Tadmor, James Flaten, and Demoz Gebre-Egziabher who served as faculty judges to provide helpful critiques on the students’ submissions. 

Over 100 people made it out to the symposium, with representation from students, staff, and faculty from AEM as well as those from other departments. Several participants and attendees commented that they were each interested in learning about the work being done in AEM and being introduced to new research. 

According to Professor Kirsten Stranjord, who helped plan the symposium, its purpose is to give students an opportunity to share their research and develop the skill of presenting research content in a format that is commonly seen at conferences and workshops. Constraints on poster size, length of text, and audience type were put into place so students could learn how to succinctly portray their complicated research concepts.

Keegan showing his poster
Keegan Bunker sharing his research with fellow students. 

As a member of the Aerospace Systems group within AEM, Andrew Brevick’s research is in navigation, particularly GNSS. He has recently begun focusing on using signals of opportunity, such as cellular signals, to augment GNSS navigation, leading him to the idea for his poster, Cellular Signal of Opportunity: Mapping the urban environment

After deciding to submit his poster to this year’s Minnesota Aerospace Graduate Student Poster Symposium competition, Brevick realized the process is much different than presenting research as a paper for publication or at a conference. “You need to convey your work to a diverse audience in a few minutes with only a few visuals - it's a very creative exercise. It's challenging to change your focus to the broad ideas of a topic when you are used to dealing with minute details,” said Brevick. Brevick was clearly up for the challenge as his poster won the award for Best Overall Poster!

Professor Tadmor, one of the Symposium judges, stated, “…the judges were impressed by the breadth and quality of the research in AEM. It is not easy to present complex research in the short form of a poster that conveys the key aspects of the work and its importance in a way that is accessible to a broad audience. There were many excellent examples among the posters that met these requirements, and we had a very hard time selecting winners.” 

Peter explaining his poster.
 Peter Yip discusses his poster with attendees.

Peter Yip, who won the Best Quality award for his poster Multi-scale damage Solution on hypersonic flight vehicles, said he would encourage those interested in the opportunity to present at the symposium and do so continuously to hone that skill. “I felt that this symposium was also a great way for students to practice how to take their very niche, well-researched topic and explain it to individuals with varying levels of expertise in the subject,” Yip added. 

Yip was initially nervous about entering his work. “This being my first poster session; I had this vision of students standing around sadly waiting for the judges to rip their results apart.” Professor Ryan Elliott quelled these fears by saying, “The faculty judges were seen dedicatedly attending to their duties; reading each poster and discussing with the author.”

Even though it was a competition, the atmosphere was lively and buzzing with conversation. Both students and faculty were pleased to see and speak with others about the variety of amazing work that happens in the department. “The turnout was way more than I expected,” said Professor Demoz Gebre-Egziabher. “The graduate students were apparently excited and looking for an activity like this. The breadth of the research activity in the department is impressive. We tend to live in our own little corners and fail to see that there is a lot more going on. It was a great way to see the larger picture of what our department is.”

This sentiment was echoed by Brevick saying, “(it’s) actually quite rare to hear the details of the work that my peers are doing. We spend so much time together working and studying, but we can forget to keep each other up to date on our research. It's fun to talk about our work, especially with friends from around the department!”

Yip said he was “…pleasantly surprised to see my colleagues walking away from the poster they spent time making and engaging with each other about research and check-in on each other's well-being.”

Sharing his thoughts after the event wrapped up, Prof. Gebre-Egziabher said, “It was a blast to see students so excited about their work and willing to share with everyone that came by to see their posters.” He hopes this will become a yearly tradition. 

Symposium Winners

Although only four winners could be chosen, congratulations go out to all of the AEM graduate students who participated for their outstanding work!






Special thanks to Prof. Strandjord for pulling this together!


Overhead shot of posters

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