Borhani Named one of Aviation Week’s 20 Twenties

Second UB aerospace student to receive award in two years

by Nicole Capozziello

Published February 6, 2019

Fatak Borhani, a senior in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was named one of Aviation Week’s 20 Twenties for 2019.

“Getting this award once for our department is outstanding. Getting it twice in a row is amazing. It certainly means a lot to our department, but more importantly, it shows that we have the best and brightest students right here at UB.”
John Crassidis, Samuel Capen Chair Professor
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

The award, presented by the Aviation Week Network and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), recognizes 20 top aerospace-bound students from an international field of highly qualified candidates. Students are chosen based on their academic performance as well as their potential to contribute to the broader community and communicate the value of their research.

Fatak Borhani at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.

Borhani is working as a mechatronics engineering co-op at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory this semester.

“Fatak is extremely engaging, being one of the most enthusiastic students I have met in my career,” says John Crassidis, Samuel P. Capen Chair Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Director, Center for Multisource Information Fusion. “His enthusiasm and passion for aerospace engineering drives him to do more than what is offered in a classroom setting. He’s never waited to use the knowledge he acquired in his undergraduate classes to address real-world problems.” 

Since starting at UB in 2015, Borhani has actively engaged in undergraduate service and research. As a tutor and teaching assistant, Borhani has had the opportunity to share his passion for the aerospace industry with other students. His undergraduate research has included projects in the IDEAS Lab as well as the UB Nanosatellite Laboratory. He is currently working with Crassidis and Minghui Zheng, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, on research to enable satellites to fly without relying on GPS, which would help increase system security against signal jamming.

For the 2018-2019 school year, Borhani is off-campus working as a mechatronics engineering co-op in the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. It has been an exciting few months at NASA; Borhani has not only gained invaluable skills but was lucky enough to be there on the day the InSight spacecraft landed on Mars. “Witnessing that human imagination is capable of landing a big rover on a red rocky ball 34 million miles away makes you realize there’s nothing that’s impossible!” says Borhani.

For his co-op, Borhani is working on a team to build, test, and deliver the actuators for four earth-observing satellites which are scheduled to launch to orbit between 2020 and 2022. “The best part of my job is knowing that the results of the projects I contribute to will outlive me,” says Borhani of his internship. “By studying earthquakes and global warming, I’m helping build a more sustainable planet for future generations.”

In the future, Borhani hopes to continue working in the aerospace industry, with the ultimate goal of increasing the robustness of autonomous aerial and space vehicles. He is particularly interested in finding ways to reduce the cost of building and operating such vehicles, radically boosting their implementation in both commercial air travel and space exploration.

Crassidis says, “Fatak will certainly be a one of our nation’s top leaders in the aerospace engineering field sooner than later in his career.”

This marks the second time that a student from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering has received the prestigious 20 Twenties award; Seamus Lombardo (’18) won the award last year.

“Getting this award once for our department is outstanding. Getting it twice in a row is amazing. It certainly means a lot to our department, but more importantly, it shows that we have the best and brightest students right here at UB,” says Crassidis.