On November 13th, the Women in Aeronautics and Astronautics (WIAA) hosted their second annual WIAA Night with the help of the Aerospace Engineering Department, as well as corporate sponsors (Aerospace Corporation, AIAA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation)!

WIAA Night was a celebration of our organization’s accomplishments since its founding in 2015, a review of past events and future goals, and a chance to thank our sponsors and hear from our partners in industry. During the event, the WIAA members and Aerospace faculty had the chance to network with industry personnel over some light food and refreshments. Some lucky guests even got to take a personal tour of the new A. James Clark Hall with Dr. Darryll Pines, the Dean of the Clark School of Engineering. WIAA’s President, Rosemary Davidson, introduced the organization and provided a synopsis of the past three years. Dr. Norman Wereley, the Aerospace Department Chair, followed with a message to the guests. Our keynote from the Aerospace Corporation, Dr. Dewanne Phillips, closed the night by speaking about her experiences in the industry and providing advice on how to succeed in the industry as a woman. 

WIAA would like to give a big thank you to all the students, faculty, and industry personnel that attended! Thank you for making the second WIAA Night a success, and we hope that we can continue to have successful events like this in the future!

WIAA Night 2017


This #WIAA Wednesday we would like to highlight the Department of Aerospace Engineering’s very own Assistant Professor. WIAA is honored to feature Dr. Christine Hartzell this November!

Dr. Christine Hartzell received her BS in Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and her PhD in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado. While at GT and CU, she completed three internships at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one internship at JAXA (the Japanese space agency). After completing her PhD, she was a postdoctoral fellow in Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology for 18 months. Dr. Hartzell started as an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland in 2014. Her research focuses on granular materials that are dominated by non-gravitational forces: she is specifically interested in the evolution of asteroids and the design of spacecraft to explore low-gravity bodies such as asteroids, comets, and the Moon.

She has received the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship and the Amelia Earhart Fellowship. In addition to her many accomplishments, an asteroid was named after Dr. Hartzell in recognition of her contributions to the asteroid science community: 9319 Hartzell (https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=9319). She even likes to include her asteroid in exam problems!

Dr. Hartzell’s Words of Wisdom:

  1. Don’t compare the inside of yourself to the outside of someone else. On the outside, your classmates may look calm, cool and collected – like they know what they are doing and are super accomplished. You may feel like you have no idea what’s going on. Remember, though, that your classmates are probably just as uncertain as you are, and everyone works hard to project a confident “outside”.
  2. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Sometimes we are afraid to ask for something (a meeting with a professor, an undergraduate research position, a raise, etc), because we think “I am just an undergrad, I’m not that important, etc.” The key is to evaluate the risks associated with the worst possible outcome of your request. Most of the time, the worst outcome is that your request is denied, which is really not that bad at all because you’re just in the same position as you were before you asked.
  3. The work environment is MUCH better than it used to be, but you will still encounter sexism. If you get into a bad situation, don’t be afraid to make a change – you are valuable! Be assertive and confident, and fix things quickly. Never compromise your integrity.

Did you know?:

Dr. Hartzell has a horse and has ridden horses since she was five years old. Her horse is a thoroughbred and she usually rides him a couple of times a week. They primarily do dressage, but she hopes to do some eventing when she has more time. Despite being very large, her horse is not very brave and relies on his pony pasture-mate for protection.

Another fun fact about Dr. Hartzell is that she also downhill skis every winter on the West coast. She grew up skiing and skied a lot during grad school. Her favorite ski area is Snowbird, Utah.