Lombardo named one of Aviation Week’s 20 Twenties

Award recognizes top-notch work in aerospace engineering

Seamus Lombardo got the award from John Langford, AIAA president and Greg Hamilton, Aviation Week president.

Presenting the award to Seamus Lombardo (center) is Dr. John Langford (left), incoming AIAA president, CEO and founder of Aurora Flight Sciences, and the 2018 recipient of Aviation Week's Lifetime Achievement Award, and Greg Hamilton (right), president of the Aviation Week Network.

by Rebecca Rudell

Published May 29, 2018

Seamus Lombardo, who graduated this May with a degree in aerospace engineering from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is heading to MIT this summer to begin his master’s degree. Earlier this year, he was named one of Aviation Week’s 20 Twenties for 2018, an award presented by the Aviation Week Network and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

“This award is given to the best of the best. When considering pure learning and research abilities, congenial attitude, excitement in discovery, leadership abilities, and motivation always to drive oneself to be better, Seamus is at the top of his field.”
John Crassidis, Samuel P. Capen Chair Professor and Director, Center for Multisource Information Fusion
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Lombardo was also awarded third place in the Student Competition at the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Symposium on Small Satellites (against graduate and PhD students) in 2017, was presented with the 2018 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, and was the student speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony. Furthermore, while at UB, he won prestigious internships at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA Langley Research Center, as well as at Millennium Space Systems and SpaceX.

Active in UB’s Nanosatellite Laboratory since his freshman year, Lombardo served as the  technical co-lead of the attitude determination and control subsystem, as well as its program manager. His research for the group, which he has presented in a number of conferences, involved reaction wheels—the actuators that help control a satellite’s orientation while in space—in particular, finding ways to make testing them more cost effective than the tests currently used in the industry.

John Crassidis, Samuel P. Capen Chair Professor and Director, Center for Multisource Information Fusion, and the lab’s advisor, had this to say about Lombardo being named one of the 20 Twenties: “This award is given to the best of the best. When considering pure learning and research abilities, congenial attitude, excitement in discovery, leadership abilities, and motivation always to drive oneself to be better, Seamus is at the top of his field.”

Lombardo says it was an honor and a surprise when he found out about the award. He describes the ceremony held in Washington D.C. in March as a “fantastic experience,” where he felt “honored to stand alongside so many experienced, interesting and passionate individuals.” One of the benefits of the gala is that winners’ information is distributed to the top companies in the industry.

His ultimate career goal is to become an astronaut, but knows how competitive that arena is. “I’ll shoot for that, but if I can’t go into space myself, I want to be involved in putting others there. That’s why at MIT I’m going to work on spacesuits,” he says.

Lombardo explains that astronaut suits don’t allow the wearer to move naturally—walking and other tasks require much more thought than on Earth. He hopes to reduce what’s called “cognitive loading,” by assessing various spacesuit configurations and fits and how they affect an astronaut’s ability to focus on key tasks, so astronauts can focus on more important details and tasks.

“I really want to advance the goal of expanding humanity’s presence in space,” he says.