A Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate student who helped develop a robotic spacecraft research system used on board the International Space Station, was honored as the 2013 Boeing Engineering Student of the Year during the Paris Air Show on June 18.
Brent E. Tweddle, a PhD candidate at the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Space Systems Laboratory, received the honor, which recognizes the outstanding engineering talent of tomorrow, during the annual Flightglobal Achievement Awards 2013 celebration at the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, Le Bourget.
Tweddle received the award from Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Airplane Development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, at Flightglobal’s Achievement Awards.
“At Boeing, we are very focused on growing talent and building an environment where innovation can thrive,” Fancher said. “The Engineering Student of the Year Award is a great way to recognize the best and the brightest among our future leaders and innovators.”
“Brent represents the incredible engineering talent out there in our industry. Boeing is proud to recognize his achievements and to honor the accomplishments of engineering students throughout the world by sponsoring this award over the past eight years,” Fancher said.
Boeing and publisher Flightglobal co-sponsor the international award, now in its eighth year, to encourage students to pursue careers in aerospace-related engineering fields. The competition is open to full- and part-time engineering students pursuing recognized degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The competition generated the most student entries in years and judging was done by a panel of distinguished former Boeing senior technical fellows.
Tweddle was the clear winner, judges said, because of his exceptional academic, research, and professional skills and his leadership in the development of a unique robotic research system that was successfully operated aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The project, called SPHERES VERTIGO,” demonstrated the use of new vision based navigation algorithms never before tested in space. In the aerospace industry, vision based navigation is a critical element in order to enable future autonomous servicing, inspection, and in-space assembly missions.
Tweddle led the "SPHERES VERTIGO" program from 2010 to 2013.
While heading the project Tweddle worked with a team to design, build, test and qualify the system. Tweddle also trained the astronauts who operated VERTIGO aboard the space station and had the unique task of supporting them through direct Space-to-Ground communications.
In addition, Tweddle has compiled a 5.0/5.0 GPA at his MIT classes and is the winner of numerous scholarships and awards, including the 2011 AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Award and Best Student Paper at the AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control conference.
“I obviously feel very lucky to receive this award as well as to have the opportunity to do research onboard the International Space Station with the astronauts,” Tweddle said. “The team that we have at MIT and Aurora Flight Sciences has made it an amazing experience to work with NASA, DARPA and the Air Force.
“I am also really thankful for the support my family including my parents and my wife (Dr. Lindsay Hays) - who is incredibly understanding of space flight schedules – have given me over all the years,” Tweddle said.
Boeing has partnered with Flightglobal to host the worldwide ESOYA competition since 2005 to encourage students to pursue careers in aerospace-related engineering fields.. The winning students’ work must be judged as likely to impact the future of aerospace engineering in areas such as new or enhanced capabilities, systems, processes or tools; new levels of performance; and improved life cycle costs.
Boeing’s role in the ESOYA competition is one of the many ways the company supports efforts that encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
"Brent epitomizes what we are trying to recognize and honor with our Engineering Student of the Year Award,” said John Tracy, Boeing chief technology officer and senior vice president of Engineering, Operations & Technology.
"This is noteworthy work, and Brent symbolizes the kind of future engineering professionals who will truly make a difference in the field and will help improve the lives of people worldwide,” Tracy said.