USU Student Receives Invitation to International Conference

October 7, 2002

LOGAN, Utah — Ionio Andrus, a Utah State University mechanical and aerospace engineering senior, has been chosen as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' (AIAA) undergraduate representative to the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Congress

Andrus submitted a paper to the AIAA based on research he performed while working at the Space Dynamics Laboratory under the direction of Tom Wilkerson, research professor and senior scientist. Andrus titled his paper "Numerically Determining Families of Orbits for Nonspherical Bodies, or How to Circle a Banana."

"The title has two parts," Andrus said. "The first part describes exactly what this paper is about in technical terms. The second part is the poetic summary of the first title. It really caught some attention. On all reviews I received they used the 'Banana' title."

The application of his thesis is a formula for orbiting an object that is not spherical, such as an asteroid. Andrus is pleased with his findings and hopes the formula he has created will help scientists eventually orbit and land on an asteroid to perform scientific studies.

"Working on this project was like working on a jigsaw puzzle without the picture," said Andrus. "Occasionally two pieces of the puzzle seemed to fit together, but as the work progressed it became apparent that they did not. Satisfaction washes over me every time I see the completed project, because each piece is exactly where it should be and there is certainty in its placement."

The program is part of the Zarem Graduate Student Awards. Dr. Abe Zarem and the AIAA established the awards for students pursuing masters degrees in aeronautics and astronautics to showcase their talent and work.

"It is hoped that these awards will not only identify talented students, but also motivate and encourage more students to seek advanced degrees in these areas and start to fill a void that has worried educators for many years," said Stephen J. Brock, AIAA student programs liaison.

According to Brock, the award also enables an outstanding undergraduate to present at the conference. This is the award Andrus received. The AIAA Foundation will cover airfare, registration and hotel accommodations.

"I was a little shocked when I received the invitation to present," Andrus said. "I feel like I have won a sweepstakes - all expenses paid."