On Sunday, April 8th, the Women in Aeronautics and Astronautics organization at the University of Maryland, College Park, hosted its third annual WIAA Day. WIAA Day is a day-long event for high school and middle school students with an interest in engineering, math, and science who would like to learn more about the exciting field of aerospace engineering!

This year’s theme for WIAA Day was the James Webb Space Telescope to celebrate its upcoming launch. The event included keynote speeches from females atop the aerospace industry, aerospace lab tours, student and industry member panels, an engineering organization activity fair, and a chance for students to work in teams during a mission design competition.

We would like to give a big thank you to all of the students, faculty, and industry volunteers who made WIAA Day a success! We hope that WIAA Day was able to inspire these students through the presentations, guest lecturers, and fun mission design activities. Feel free to check out our albums for some amazing pictures from WIAA Day!

WIAA Day 2018 - Part 1
WIAA Day 2018 - Part 2

Credit:  Debora McCallum 


For February’s #WIAAWednesday, WIAA would like to feature someone who is very important to the Department of Aerospace Engineering. We are honored to highlight Aileen Hentz this month!

Aileen Hentz is the Program Director for Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Aerospace Engineering within the A. James Clark School of Engineering.  She oversees aspects of the undergraduate program including recruitment, retention, advising, registration, graduation, and alumni. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History and Integrated Liberal Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She later went on to receive her Master of Education in College Student Affairs from Pennsylvania State University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, & Special Education, at the University of Maryland.

Aileen’s Words of Wisdom: “Grit over quit.  Grit will get you much further in life.  A Japanese proverb about resilience was drilled into my head as a child, “fall down seven times, get up eight.”  In other words, never give up.  This being said, getting up can be hard, and you don’t have to do it alone.  It’s perfectly alright to ask for help.  We all need to lift each other up when we’re down, and celebrate our own and others’ successes.”

Did you know?: Aileen loves dogs!  She has 2 big, slobbery mutts and has often fostered dogs through a local, German Shepherd rescue organization.


For January’s #WIAAWednesday, we are honored to highlight one of WIAA’s founders and our very first Public Relations Chair! This month’s #WIAAWednesday features Karenna Buco! She has accomplished so much during her time at UMD, and we are excited for her next steps once she graduates!

Karenna Buco is a senior Aerospace Engineering student in the space track, working on the hybrid reusable propulsion stage capstone team. She was a past Women in Engineering Research Fellow and was a part of the Gemstone Honors Program. She has been awarded the Women in Engineering Service Award with the first WIAA board, a Rodney A. Harrill Endowed Scholarship in Engineering, and Orbital ATK Mission Systems Corporate Partner Scholarships. In addition to her outstanding academic achievements, she has also completed two internships at Textron Systems in Maryland and one at Aerojet Rocketdyne in Florida. She has been offered a full-time Systems Engineering position at Aerojet Rocketdyne in the West Palm Beach area where she will be moving to after graduation!

Karenna also shared a very interesting story with us about the time she went inside a rocket: “I was one of the lucky few who were invited to walk inside the Atlas V preparing to launch the TDRS-M payload at Cape Canaveral. A support engineer offered to let us look at one of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s renowned products, an RL10 (upperstage engine) up close and personal, which was a hundred feet up at the Vertical Integration Facility. I was working on the RL10 program, so it was amazing to see in-person an engine running. And actually, I wear the TDRS-M mission patch on a jacket as a reminder of that experience.”

Karenna’s Words of Wisdom:
• “People don’t really like to talk about challenges or failures, but I believe those experiences actually make the best parts of a person. When you endure through something very difficult, you realize a lot about your limits, strengths, perspectives, etc. These low points in our lives can actually be opportunities to reinvent ourselves and even if they are not, you learn what is or is not in your control.”
• “We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably [s]he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.” – Samuel Smiles (adapted by Karenna)

Did you know?: Karenna values diverse experiences, so she likes to involve herself in a lot of non-aero activities. On-campus, she currently works in the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs and was a past Resident Assistant, both roles that help contribute to improving the campus climate. She has traveled throughout the US, Europe, Japan, the Philippines, and even Sierra Leone to see and participate in more of the world.