#WIAAWednesday – Yvonne C. Brill

This #WIAAWednesday, UMD WIAA would like to honor Yvonne C. Brill, a pioneering rocket scientist, and the namesake of the AIAA Yvonne C. Brill annual Lectureship. Born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1924, Brill’s work in satellite propulsion and the innovative hydrazine resistojet, a rocket using propulsion that provides thrust by heating a non-reactive fluid, were vital contributions to both NASA and the International Maritime Satellite Organization. Her method of propulsion has become the industry standard, and her legacy is ever-present in the scientific community.

The first in her family to go to college, Brill attended the University of Manitoba before working for the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1945 to help create the first designs for an American satellite. Brill’s contributions range from the propulsion system of TIROS, which in 1960 became the first satellite capable of remote-sensing the Earth, to the 1992 Mars Observer. In 2011, when asked how she conquered the odds and became a pioneer in her field, Brill answered, “I just had the drive to do it!”

Throughout her career, Brill earned numerous awards, including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the American Association of Engineering Societies John Fritz Medal, and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

The AIAA Yvonne C. Brill Lecture will take place on Tuesday October 2nd at 10:30AM at the National Academy of Engineering. The UMD Aerospace Department has a charter bus that will be transporting students and faculty to the lecture.  

#WIAA Wednesday

For the first #WIAAWednesday of the semester, we’d like to feature a sophomore who has accomplished so much in her first year as an Aerospace Engineering student. WIAA is honored to highlight Rachel Cueva this Wednesday!

Rachel Cueva is currently a sophomore Aerospace Engineering student, originally from Eldersburg, Maryland. She is engaged in many organizations on campus: the Nearspace Balloon Payload Program, where she is a project lead, AIAA, where she serves as secretary, the FLEXUS program LLC, where she serves as vice president, and the Clark School Ambassadors program. Rachel is also a CONNECT Mentor for the Gemstone Honors College, and a SEEDS Mentor for the Women in Engineering Program.

Rachel was inspired to become an Aerospace Engineering major due to her dream to become a NASA Astronaut. In the future, she hopes to either pursue research or possibly join the workforce, with becoming an astronaut her end goal.

Rachel’s Words of Wisdom:
– Don’t compare yourself to others! Everyone in engineering is going to be really smart, so comparing yourself to them will only lead to stress and will not benefit you in any way. Only worry about how you can push yourself to be the best that you can be!
– It’s ok to fail — that’s just part of the engineering process. Instead of focusing on the failure and giving up, keep working hard and figure out what else you can do to solve the problem. At the end of the day, you only truly fail if you give up!

Did you know?: When she isn’t at a club meeting or working on her solar panel deployment payload, Rachel is scuba certified, loves to rock climb, and loves fantasy movies/TV shows such as Game of Thrones.  


For this month’s #WIAAWednesday, we would like to feature an Aerospace Engineering student who is very special to our department. WIAA is honored to highlight Bianca Foltan this April!

Bianca Foltan is currently a senior Aerospace Engineering student on the space track. Bianca has been heavily involved in the high-altitude ballooning program, UMD NearSpace. During her time in the program, Bianca developed an alternate method of inflating and launching large weather balloons, mentored several ENAE100 projects, and was the student lead for High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) in her junior year. HASP is a program that gives students the opportunity to fly a payload on a large NASA weather balloon. After graduation, she will be returning to work full-time on launch vehicles at Orbital ATK where she interned last year.

Bianca’s Word of Wisdom:

  • “Do things that force you to be independent. Take a class without arranging to have a friend take it with you, go for that internship that’s really far from home. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can do on your own. The skills you gain, the lessons you learn, and the confidence you build in yourself when you do those things is invaluable.”
  • “Communication is way more important to engineering than it is given credit for. It’s important to learn how to adapt your communication style to better get your message across.”
  • “The people around you are an incredible resource. Get to know people outside of just your year. Few things are more helpful than having a mentor who is a little ahead of you in the program, and equally few things are more rewarding than being able to be that mentor for someone else.”

Did you know?: When she is not busy studying, Bianca enjoys reading sci-fi and fantasy books. She is also a huge Buffalo Bills fan and has been going to games since she was very young.