UA Engineering Students Awarded Scholarships, Fellowships by NASA

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Alabama Space Grant Consortium has given seven University of Alabama engineering students $42,000 in graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship money.

Fellowships were given to Nicholas Jose Benenati, a graduate student in aerospace engineering and mechanics from Lilburn, Georgia; and Dylan Christian Ullery, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering from Tuscaloosa.

The graduate fellowships are funded jointly through the ASGC and the UA Office for Research and Economic Development. The UA office provided fellowship matching for a total of $37,000.

“The aerospace industry is a crucial driver of our state’s economy, and we are proud to participate through the Alabama Space Grant Consortium to inspire our students to work in this industry,” said Dr. Carl A. Pinkert, vice president for research and economic development.

Graduate students were evaluated based on a proposed research program or plan of study relevant to NASA’s aerospace science and technology program in addition to academic qualifications and motivation toward an aerospace or space science career.

Benenati received the fellowship for his dissertation titled “Damage Tolerant Design of Composite Payload Attach Fitting for the Space Launch System.” His adviser is Dr. Samit Roy, William D. Jordan Professor of aerospace engineering and mechanics.

Ullery was awarded the fellowship based on his dissertation titled “Graphene – 2D – Metamaterial Based Flexible Devices with Electrically Tunable Reflectivity for Solar Sail Application.” Dr. Patrick Kung, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is his adviser.

Since 1989, the ASGC has been one of 52 national space grant consortia that make up the NASA National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. The group offers educational funding to students who study any aerospace-related field at participating schools.

“NASA, through the ASGC, continues to demonstrate a commitment to developing future engineers, scientists and teachers by providing scholarship and fellowship opportunities for STEM students who are interested in aerospace-related careers,” said Dr. John Baker, professor and department head for aerospace engineering and mechanics.

In addition to the fellowships, the ASGC gave away five merit-based undergraduate scholarships worth $1,000 each. Undergraduate applicants were selected based on their academic qualifications, career goals and an assessment of their motivation toward an aerospace or space science career.

Undergraduate ASGC award recipients include:

  • Elizabeth Beddingfield, a junior in chemical and biological engineering from Helena.
  • Valdrie Leslie Buford, a senior in aerospace engineering and mechanics from Edmond, Oklahoma.
  • Chandler Nichols, a junior in aerospace engineering and mechanics from Cleveland, Tennessee.
  • Cristion X. Oliphant-Jerry, a sophomore in aerospace engineering and mechanics from Columbia, Maryland.
  • Megan R. Wood, a senior in mechanical engineering from Destin, Florida.


Alana Norris, engineering communications, 205/348-8644,


Dr. John Baker, professor and department head for aerospace engineering and mechanics,