UB engineering major, aviation scholarship winner, seeks to encourage women in aviation

UB senior Jennifer Merckel received a Galactic Unite Flying Tigresses Scholarship, which supports women who are pursuing careers in aerospace and aviation.

By Mike Andrei

Published March 7, 2016

There is nothing that Jennifer Merckel doesn’t like about flying.

“It is great to see how Jennifer’s aerospace interests and education are being recognized with this prestigious scholarship, which includes flight school training.”
Kemper Lewis, Professor and Chair
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

“It is hard to describe the feeling of liberation and freedom. There are no limits – you can go anywhere you want.”

Merckel, a UB senior from Moravia, New York, with a double major in civil and aerospace engineering, is a recipient of the Galactic Unite Flying Tigresses Scholarship, a one-time $2,200 award to a collegiate or early-career woman establishing a career in aerospace.

Merckel, who holds a private pilot’s license and is working on completing her instrument rating, plans to continue her flight training by obtaining her commercial certificate and becoming a flight instructor.

“I have always been interested in aviation,” Merckel said. “My uncle is a flight instructor and gave me encouragement. He made me realize that I could do it.”

“I know other women could do it as well. I want to show that aviation is open to everyone.”

“It is great to see how Jennifer’s aerospace interests and education are being recognized with this prestigious scholarship, which includes flight school training,” said Kemper Lewis, professor and chair, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

So how does civil engineering fit in to a pilot’s career?

“My grandpa was a civil engineer and always gave me puzzles to solve,” Merckel said. “That got me interested in a career in engineering. I am taking an extra year to do a double major – three years civil engineering and two years aerospace engineering.”

As for her future plans, Merckel said she plans to earn an MBA in aviation management from Embry Riddle aviation school. She eventually wants to work in airport management, and says a background in transportation engineering would be a big plus in taking her career in that direction.

“Right now I don’t have time for many other activities beside my job, flight school, and homework. Aviation is going to be a big part of the rest of my life.”

“I love the freedom it affords. I can go fly and not talk to anyone else!”