Aviation Week's 2014 Twenty20s Include Two with Ties to MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Awards recognize promising work of young aerospace engineers.

Among the 20 students selected by Aviation Week magazine as "Tomorrow's Engineering Leaders: The Twenty20s" are Michael Stern, a Lincoln Scholar assigned to MIT Lincoln Laboratory's Rapid Prototyping Group, and Raichelle Aniceto, an MIT undergraduate who was a member of a joint MIT and Lincoln Laboratory team that developed a miniature satellite for taking atmospheric measurements used in weather forecasting.

Aviation Week, a division of Penton, established the Twenty20s awards in 2009 in partnership with Raytheon Company to recognize top undergraduate and graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. "We have found that today's university students are undertaking research and innovation that solves some of the toughest questions engineers face today," says Greg Hamilton, Aviation Week president. "The individuals chosen for the Twenty20s program are engaged in this type of exploration, are proving themselves in the classroom, and are reaching out to the world beyond the campus to make a difference."

Stern joined Lincoln Laboratory's technical staff in 2009 after completing a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at MIT. As a member of the Engineering Division, he has worked on projects to develop a radar calibration device, a wide-area surveillance sensor, and unmanned air vehicles. He has also been involved in the division's exploration of novel uses for additive manufacturing technology. "Mike Stern is helping to lead the Laboratory's efforts to use additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, to enable rapid prototyping," says Eliahu Niewood, head of the Engineering Division. "He's taken the initiative to advance this effort in both his project work at the lab and in his research work at MIT as part of the Lincoln Scholars program."

Through the competitive Lincoln Scholars program, which provides funding for technical staff members who return to school for advanced degrees, Stern is working toward a master's degree in mechanical engineering at MIT. He is working with Professor Maria Yang on the development of more effective design processes for rapid fabrication with additive manufacturing. As a Lincoln Scholar, Stern continues his association with the Laboratory through his thesis research and part-time work and will return to full-time technical staff responsibilities after completing his degree.

In 2013, Stern and coauthor Eli Cohen earned a distinguished paper award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers for a technical article describing their development of the Variable Airspeed Telescoping wing Additive manufactured Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VAST AUAV). In 2014, he was the co-recipient of the Carl G. Sontheimer Prize, given by the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering for innovation in design. He and colleagues built a 3-D printer that produces glass objects. He has also served as a mentor for undergraduates in the MIT Department of Engineering's Product Development course.

"I was very excited to be both nominated and then honored with this award. I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity and resources to pursue research in design for additive manufacturing that contributed to my nomination," says Stern.

Aniceto, a junior majoring in aerospace engineering, worked on the Micro-sized Microwave Atmospheric Satellite (MicroMAS) project, developing a three-unit CubeSat bus designed and built by students in MIT's Space Systems Laboratory under the direction of Professor Kerry Cahoy. The CubeSat was fabricated to carry a small microwave radiometer developed by a research team at Lincoln Laboratory led by William Blackwell, assistant leader of the Sensor Technology and Systems Applications Group. MicroMAS was selected by NASA to ride aboard an Orbital Sciences' spacecraft launched in July 2014 to ferry supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) and will be deployed from the ISS in early 2015 to collect observations on atmospheric temperatures and water-vapor profiles.

"Raichelle Aniceto has both sharp analytic and hands-on technical skills. For our nanosatellite project, Raichelle contributed by developing hardware in the machine shop. She also performed very detailed and thorough analyses of the radiation environment that MicroMAS would experience in different orbits to help the team assess its reliability," says Cahoy.

Aniceto also contributed to the radiation analysis for the MicroMAS follow-on project, the Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTa) CubeSat. She has worked with Cahoy at the MIT Space, Telecommunications, Astronomy, and Radiation Laboratory on the Free Space Optical Laser Communications project, interned at the Boeing Company and Northrop Grumman Corporation, and founded the group MIT Women in Aerospace Engineering.

On Nov. 20, Stern and Aniceto received their awards at Aviation Week's Aerospace and Defense (A&D) Programs Conference, a forum for civilian and military leaders to discuss current issues and future directions in A&D. For the Twenty20s, the conference is a chance to meet the people who are driving innovation in the aerospace and defense industries. "I am excited that this opportunity could help advance a career in the aerospace industry where I could be a part of developing technology that truly impacts our world," says Aniceto.