Three Daniel Guggenheim School Students Receive Prestigious AIAA Scholarships

Three Daniel Guggenheim School Students Receive Prestigious AIAA Scholarships

Three Daniel Guggenheim School undergraduate students were awarded scholarships from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation. Rebekah Geil, Satvik Kumar, and Elton Shinji Okuma Hayachiguti received scholarships for their aerospace (AE) academics and research.  

“Preparing the next generation of aerospace innovators is part of our community’s commitment to bringing the best minds to the task,” said John Langford, who chairs the AIAA Foundation. “These students are our industry’s next leaders and problem solvers. We are proud to call them AIAA student members and look forward to seeing the contributions they bring to aerospace.”

Rebekah Geil

Rebekah Geil

Geil received the Leatrice Gregory Pendray Scholarship, named in honor of Leatrice Pendray, an accomplished rocketry researcher and co-founder of the American Interplanetary Society in 1930. The $1,250 scholarship is awarded annually to academic scholars studying AE.   

“This scholarship means so much to me because it encourages me to continue to work hard and push the boundaries of the aerospace industry. I could achieve nothing without the support of others, including the AIAA community,” said Geil.

The Kennesaw, Georgia native has established deep roots in her chosen discipline during her time at Georgia Tech. She’s currently a member of the NASA’s University Student Launch Initiative (USLI) rocket team, the AIAA chapter at Georgia Tech, and serves as a mentor at the Yang Aero Maker Space. Outside her aerospace studies and activities,she’s involved in the Society of Women Engineers and is the president of the Navigators, a campus ministry.

She fell in love with AE when she attended the Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama, one summer in middle school.

“I was – and still am! – so inspired by the legacy of NASA’s history. The idea that a group of people could work together to achieve something that seems impossible made me decide to become an aerospace engineer,” said Geil. She also credits her high school teachers and her family helping her achieve her goal of becoming an aerospace engineer. 

When she’s not in class or volunteering her time, you can find Geil conducting research in the Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL) under the direction of research engineer Selcuk Cimtalay. Her research includes working with model-based systems engineering , which has aided Geil in understanding the big picture view of how spacecraft works.

“Georgia Tech has inspired me to think about technical problems in ways that are both analytical and creative. I have been pushed to new levels during my time at Tech, and I’m grateful for the ways it has challenged me,” said Geil.

Satvik Kumar

Satvik Kumar

The AE third-year student is the 2021 recipient of the the Werner von Braun Scholarship, named after the world-renowned rocket scientist.

“It’s an honor to receive the Werner von Braun Scholarship from AIAA, as it recognizes my hard work, passion, and commitment to the aerospace field. Winning the scholarship continues to motivate me to work hard, soar to new heights, and to reach higher goals so I can make a difference in the aerospace field,” said Kumar.

The Indiana native has been involved in undergraduate research since his first year at the Institute. His research has included machine learning for aviation safety with the ASDL and unmanned aerial vehicles at the Aerial Robotics and Experimental Autonomy Lab (AREAL).

His research has led him to work alongside AE research engineer Tejas Puranik and Professor Jonathan Rogers. "Having an opportunity to be involved with research from freshman year and having supportive faculty along the way has helped tremendously. There are endless opportunities for undergraduates to take advantage of at Georgia Tech AE that help provide students with a solid foundation for their future in aerospace engineering," said Kumar. 

Elton Shinji Okuma Hayachiguti

Elton Shinji Okuma Hayachiguti

Okuma Hayachiguti was presented the Dr. James Rankin Digital Avionics Scholarship of $2,000 by the AIAA technical committee.

“Being an international student in aerospace is very difficult due to the many restrictions we face. Receiving this recognition from AIAA encourages me to keep striving toward my goals despite the challenges ahead,” said Okuma Hayachiguti, who is from Brazil.

He credits growing up near an airport and family for his decision to study aerospace.

“I have always liked airplanes. I grew up right next to an airport, collected aircraft models with my father and played flight simulators with my uncle throughout my childhood, said Okuma Hayachiguti.

The fourth-year student has been involved with model-based systems engineering research with the ASDL, directed by Cimtalay and Professor Dimitri Mavris. Okuma Hayachiguti has also conducted research in computational fluid dynamics and learned system modeling language during his time at Tech.

“Georgia Tech has countless resources to help students nurture their interests. In my case, I have been part of the Design-Build-Fly (DBF) club since my first year and have done research with many different labs. These opportunities allowed me to discover what field within AE I like most and helped me to pursue a specific career path,” said Okuma Hayachiguti.

After graduation, he plans to pursue his master's degree in AE at Tech and work on the next generation of aircraft in the ASDL


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Kelsey Gulledge