Two SLU-Madrid alumni from the Parks College of Engineering, Aviation, and Technology are making great strides in their respective industries. Discover how much they’ve achieved during their time in the institution and beyond the borders of the university.
Mechanical Engineering jam-master Aakash Gupta
A 2016 Honors B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Aakash Gupta ‘16 received two distinctions upon graduation: SLU awarded him Outstanding Senior Design Project in Mechanical Engineering, and the National Academy of Engineers selected him as a Grand Challenge Scholar.
From India, Aakash chose SLU-Madrid because he was looking for a program that would prepare him for an engineering career and afford him the chance to live in Europe and the United States. He was already featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for his 113-hour jam session, the longest guitar marathon by an individual in history. In Madrid, he distinguished himself as a musician, served on the Student Government Association, founded two student clubs, and published a book on astrophysics, Possibility of Impossibilities.
After transferring to SLU’s St. Louis campus, he continued to excel in his studies and publish – two research papers on mechanical engineering. The third paper on quantum computation and quantum information is currently under review. As a research assistant, he investigated laser ablation of gold film on silicon substrate and developed quantum algorithms for Quantum Controlled Error-Correction Teleportation Scheme. In addition, he interned at Boeing, Nidec Motor Corporation, and GE-Aviation.
And the next stage of his career? He’s at work as a mechanical engineer/stress analyst at C-K Engineering, where he develops innovative automotive solutions for General Motors, Nissan, and Ford. At the same time, Aakash will be pursuing his Master’s at SLU’s Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology.
Aerospace Engineering Alum Fernando Abilleira and NASA’s Mars InSight
Fernando Abilleira (’99, ’01) is working on yet another exciting project for NASA: the Mars Insight Mission. Abilleira, who earned a B.S. and an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Parks College of Saint Louis University, began his university studies at SLU-Madrid.
As Mission Design and Navigation Manager for InSight until 2016 and now serving as one of the InSight Mission Managers, Abilleira has been involved in the formulation, design and implementation of this groundbreaking endeavor to place a seismometer on the surface of the Red Planet and then deploy a surface penetrator that will record data on the Mars internal thermal pulse.
“For the first time, [InSight will] explore the deep interior of Mars and collect very valuable data that will tell us more about the formation and evolution of rocky planets,” he states. Abilleira’s accomplishments did not stop there, in addition to his work on InSight, Abilleira was appointed as the Mission Design and Navigation Manager for the Mars 2020 Project in early 2016.
He has been working at NASA for about 17 years, which has included his involvement with various projects and programs. Immediately upon the completion of his degree, Abilleira’s contributions in Mission Analysis and Design included support for the James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, and ST5 during his time as a contractor for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
After joining NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in January of 2004, he has supported multiple flight projects and studies such as the Mars Telecommunications Orbiter, Mars Science Orbiter, and preliminary manned mission to Mars studies among others. He led the Mission Design work for the 2016-2018 NASA/ESA Mars Mission concepts, and for the 2018-2020 Mars Surface Mission Pre-project which eventually became the Mars 2020 Project. Abilleira also served as the Trajectory Lead for the Mars Science Laboratory Project which successfully landed the Curiosity rover on Mars in August of 2012.