From left to right, aerospace engineering students named 2024 20 Twenties, Ahmed Ashry, Kruti Bhingradiya, and Madelyne Rossman.

From left to right, aerospace engineering students named 2024 20 Twenties, Ahmed Ashry, Kruti Bhingradiya, and Madelyne Rossman.


Three University of Maryland (UMD) Department of Aerospace Engineering students were selected as class of 2024 20 Twenties by Aviation Week Network. Every year, Aviation Week Network inducts 20 of the brightest, most driven aerospace-bound STEM students in their 20s into the 20 Twenties program. Awardees are nominated on the basis of their academic performance, broader civic contributions, and the value of their research or design project.

Ahmed Ashry, is a second-year master's student in Aerospace Engineering with a focus on autonomous UAV applications in challenging environments. Under the advisement of Dr. Derek Paley in UMD’s Collective Dynamics and Controls Lab (CDCL), his work involves developing drone solutions for autonomous navigation, exploration, mapping, and target detection and inspection with the goal of having drones that can bridge the gap between first responders and those in urgent need during disasters.

“Being recognized as part of Aviation Week Network's 20 Twenties means a lot to me,” said Ashry. “It's a reminder that the work I'm doing matters, not just in the lab but also in the community. It motivates me to keep pushing towards my goals.”

Ashry is also involved in the 2023 NIST 5.0 Challenge and the DARPA Triage Challenge, where he applies his thesis work to real-world scenarios, particularly in disaster response and complex environments. This allows him to contribute to the design of innovative UAS solutions, enhancing first responders' capabilities with instant, high-definition 3D mapping, and identifying human presence in restricted spaces.

“Post-graduation, my goal is to be a pioneer in the aerial autonomy field, especially in Egypt, my home country,” added Ashry. “I aim to push flying robots beyond their power limits and physical constraints to have solutions that can effectively address societal challenges and humanitarian needs.”

Kruti Bhingradiya is a senior aerospace engineering major with a minor in robotics and autonomous systems. She is currently an undergraduate researcher in CDCL where her research focuses on dynamics modelling and control theory for multi-agent autonomy of underwater robots.

"This recognition for me is about redefining possibilities, ensuring representation, and increasing awareness about opportunities and resources for underrepresented students in aerospace engineering, especially gender minorities and international students," said Bhingradiya.

She is an active researcher with the Near Space Balloon Payload program developing payloads for real-time ground communication and tracking, developing prototype systems for Venusian balloons and leading operations for high altitude weather balloon flights. Her primary research interest is in the area of spaceflight dynamics and controls, and she hopes to pursue doctoral studies after graduation in that field to become a research engineer.

Madelyne Rossmann is a first-year graduate student advised by Dr. Derek Paley. She received her undergraduate degree from UMD in aerospace engineering, and she says she is excited to finish out her academic journey at the institution that has helped shape her thus far.

“I am extremely honored to be recognized alongside such awe-inspiring individuals,” said Rossman.

She is currently researching applications for drones to sample collection, analogous to the NASA Sample Recovery Helicopter mission concept, and her focus is on making this process autonomous, because in interplanetary applications there will be limitations in communication speed. Additionally, she is designing a ground mobility system and gripper to attach to a commercially available drone to replicate the capabilities of the Sample Recovery Helicopter.

Beyond being a graduate student, she is also an academic part-time intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she works as a spacecraft controls analyst on the Psyche mission, and it is also where she aims to continue working post-graduation.

“Congratulations to the 20 Twenties class of 2024! Every year the nomination pool grows, and the competition gets harder and harder. We applaud these rising industry stars and are inspired by their achievements. We’re excited to celebrate them at the 20 Twenties Awards Luncheon in March, and can’t wait to watch their careers soar,” said Greg Hamilton, President, Aviation Week Network, in their press release.

Aviation Week Network Network’s 20 Twenties Program was established in 2013 to recognize talented individuals on course to change the face of the aviation, aerospace and defense industry. This year’s awardees will be recognized during the 66th Annual Laureate Awards and Dinner to be held on March 14, 2024, at the National Building Museum.

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January 4, 2024

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